Why Migraines & Headaches are Big Deal
If I were a superhero, say, Spiderman (migraine spidey senses being my superpower), then migraine headaches would be my supervillain – the Green Goblin, whose sole purpose is to torment me by threatening to sabotage my world and take me out! (insert maniacal laughter).
Sadly, I’m no superhero but, having to regularly suffer from migraine headaches can feel like an epic battle for over 2.7 million Canadians and mostly for women. Chances are you know someone who suffers from migraine headaches.
June is National Migraine and Headache Awareness Month and I want to some facts about migraines. My hope is that this information will deepen your understanding of migraines and what your family members, friends or co-workers might be experiencing so the conversations you have will come from a place of compassion and empathy and informed awareness.
Migraine Headaches: Facts & Triggers
Before I found a course of pain management treatment that worked for me, my migraines lasted for over 14 hours. I couldn’t work, couldn’t talk to anyone I couldn’t do anything but try to be present with the pain. I would be in tears, curled up in fetal position on the bathroom floor (the darkest place in my apartment), cellphone in hand and wondering if I should call 911 for help. These episodes were, in a word, brutal.
Migraines are more than a typical headache. They are debilitating in intensity, severity and duration. Episodic migraines happen less than 15 days each month but, sometimes they can last for three days. Chronic migraines, on the other hand, involve 15 or more days of headaches per month or eight or more headaches with migraine features each month for three or more months.
Migraine Common Symptoms & Triggers
Some common migraine symptoms experienced by migraine sufferers include nausea, vomiting, hypersensitivity to light, smells and sounds.
Common triggers include:
- Hormonal changes (periods, birth control pills, ageing)
- Certain foods (e.g., chocolate, cheese, caffeine, alcohol)
- Weather (changes in temperature/humidity)
- Strong odours (e.g., perfumes, cigarette)
- Physical factors (e.g., poor sleep, high-intensity workouts)
- Family history/genes
Migraines Affect Us Differently
Suffering from migraines just straight up sucks 100% for the individual and their loved ones. Having to miss the championship game for your kid’s basketball team, a piano recital or awards ceremony because of a migraine can be painful for the parent and the child.
People who suffer from chronic and episodic migraines have experiences that are unique to them.
Probably the one thing we may have in common is that migraines are debilitating and severely impact the quality of life for migraine sufferers, including missing school, work and events and affecting productivity and time with family and friends.
There’s also a great deal of emotional and psychological stress that these constant life interruptions can cause. Imagine for a minute having to worry constantly about making plans for fear that you’ll only end up cancelling “again” because of a migraine or worse, attending a wedding and having to leave early because of the migraine. Seriously, how can you live your best life if you’re always in fear of having a migraine attack? It’s frustrating.
There Is No Cure for Migraines
There is no cure for migraines but there are several migraine treatment options available.
Since one size does not fit all when it comes to preventative treatments, we have to find the pain management treatments that meet our individual needs. There are preventative measures, like migraine-specific prescription medications.
There are also alternative options such as acupuncture, massage therapy or chiropractic treatments. There are also therapeutic options like BOTOX for chronic migraines (a Health Canada approved migraine preventative treatment).
Knowledge is Power
Pain management through a course of prescription medication, working with healthcare providers, and self-care practices allow me to take less time off work, get to spend more time with friends and family and don’t stress out as much about going on vacation. All this means less mental stress.
Don’t get me wrong I still experience debilitating days that can last for three days but not as frequently as before. I’m so grateful now for the pain-free days.
If you think your headaches might be migraines, speak to a healthcare provider to determine if that’s the case and what options are available to manage the pain.
Whether you are a migraine sufferer or know a loved one with migraines, go check out and share www.mychronicmigraine.ca It’s a helpful resource to learn more about chronic migraines and provides a simple quiz to determine whether you might be a chronic migraine sufferer and other useful information. Knowledge is power!