Like 30 million other Americans, presidential hopeful and U.S. The representative Michele Bachmann suffer from migraines. But will this condition affect your ability to serve? Or a beer controversy about your headaches just another example of the stigma often associated with migraines?
After Dailycaller.com website published an article claiming that Bachmann was hospitalized three times for “episodes of debilitating headaches,” which controls a “significant amount of drugs,” Bachmann released a statement saying that their migraines are not have no effect on your ability to function.
In fact, migraine (people who have headaches) often have to deal with such misconceptions about their condition. And because women suffer migraines three times more often than men, one of the most common myths of migraine is that the state is a “complaint of the woman,” and that migraineurs overreact to their pain, and are really depressed or even neurotic.
However, migraines have little to do with being depressed or too sensitive. “Migraines are not caused by stress or depression,” said Robert Daroff, MD, professor of neurology at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine in Cleveland and former president of the American Headache Society. “Stress and depression can make migraine worse, but still have their migraine headaches with or without stress or depression.”
Migraines are a neurological disorder that is thought to occur when blood vessels in the brain expand, which releases chemicals that cause inflammation and pain is often unbearable. Nausea and vomiting commonly follow, as the nervous system responds to pain.
Migraine Fact and Fiction
“Migraine headaches are often misdiagnosed as sinus or tension headaches, but migraine is a very specific condition,” explains Dr. Daroff. To be a true migraine headache, migraine patients have an experience of two of these four characteristics:
Headache is one-sided
Pain is throbbing
The pain increases with activity
The pain is intense
“In addition to these four characteristics, migraine should be accompanied by nausea or worsened by noise or light,” says Daroff. Other differences between migraines and other headaches are the length (migraine pain can last up to 72 hours or more) and what is known as “aura” – a combination of warning signs, including flashing lights and colors that precede a migraine.
Migraines are much more common than sinus headaches are actually under-diagnosed. In fact, about half of all migraine sufferers have not been properly diagnosed.
Tips to help explain the migraines to others
The best way to get rid of the stigma and prejudices associated with migraine is through education. Here are some facts that your friends, family and co-workers should know:
Migraine pain is real, is caused by chemicals released by brain cells that cause irritation and inflammation of blood vessels in the brain surface.
The severity of migraine pain is often severe enough to require bed rest in a quiet room. However, there are treatments, such as certain prescription medications that can help prevent attacks or relieve symptoms when they occur.
Migraine aura, or warning signs can include irritability, fatigue, food cravings, thirst, visual changes, and stinging or burning. Migraine can be triggered by changes in sleep patterns, weather changes, certain foods, skipping meals, bright lights, loud noises, intense activity, stress and anxiety.
There is a simple test that can tell if you suffer from migraines. The diagnosis should be done by a headache expert on the basis of family history (up to 80 percent of migraine sufferers have a family history) and symptoms of headache.
Migraines are common in people aged 15 to 55, and can strike as often as once a day as infrequently as once a year.
“If you have frequent headaches, severe and have been told that headaches are sinus headaches or headaches, no specific cause, consult a specialist to rule out headache migraines,” advises Daroff.
Migraines are more common than people think. Therefore, if you or someone you know has symptoms of migraine, do not let other misconceptions “add to their pain – they say it’s migraine pain in the brain, not in the mind.