Understanding Even When YOU Don't Have Migraines
The transcript of this podcast is below. If you prefer to listen to it, you can easily do so from the MigraineCast Web site.
Hello and welcome to MigraineCast.
Today's podcast is a bit different. Yes, it's for Migraineurs -- people who have Migraine disease -- but it's also for people who don't have Migraines.
If you have family members, friends, or coworkers who have Migraines, you need to know that what you do or don't do can have an enormous effect on their lives. So, today, I want to tell talk with you about what Migraines are and how people and things in their environment can help or hurt Migraineurs.
Here are some basics about Migraine Disease that you should know:
- Based on the most recent U.S. census statistics, Migraine disease affects more than 36 million people in the United States alone.
- Migraines are NOT headaches. Migraine is a genetic neurological disease, similar in some ways to Epilepsy. The head pain of a Migraine attack is only one symptom of an episode of Migraine disease, just as a seizure is only one symptom of an episode of Epilepsy.
- Migraine disease is NOT a psychological disorder. The disease and all it's symptoms are neurological in origin and very, very real. Migraineurs are not neurotic, lazy, "high-strung," overly emotional, or faking. They are in very real pain and physical distress.
- Not all doctors have the experience and knowledge to properly treat Migraine. Finding a doctor to properly treat Migraine is one of the most important, and sometimes most difficult, steps in treatment.
- There is NO CURE for Migraine. Most Migraineurs, with the help of a qualified doctor, can find preventive regimens that will prevent many, but not all, Migraine attacks.
- Migraine abortive medications such as Imitrex, Zomig, Maxalt, Amerge, Axert, DHE, and Migranal, do not work for all Migraineurs. It is sometimes very difficult to find medications that will relieve the pain and other symptoms of a Migraine attack.
- Migraine attacks can be dangerous. If the pain of an attack lasts more than 72 hours with less than four pain-free hours while awake, it is termed Status Migrainousus, and puts the sufferer at increased risk for stroke. A Migraineur in Status Migrainousus needs immediate medical attention.
- A Migraine attack can, in rare cases, actually be fatal. An otherwise healthy 21-year-old member of our community died of a Migrainous Stroke a few years ago.
- Migraine disease can be disabling for some Migraineurs to the extent that they qualify for disability income or qualify for the Americans with Disability Act provisions. There are many whose disease is so severe that doctors are unable to control the attacks, and the Migraineur is unable to work or participate in "normal" daily activities. When a Migraine attack strikes, most Migraineurs desperately need a dark, quiet place to lie down.
Migraine attacks can be triggered by many things:
- Perfumes and fragrances from other sources are a very common Migraine trigger. If you live or work with a Migraineur, please refrain from wearing fragrances around them.
- Bright and/or flickering lights, especially fluorescent lighting -- some Migraineurs need to wear sunglasses, even inside.
- Many foods can be triggers, especially foods prepared with MSG.
- Loud noises and crowded places can also be triggers.
- Changes in weather are triggers for many Migraineurs.
- Cigarette smoke, exhaust fumes
- Each Migraineur's triggers vary. There are many other potential triggers. This list is just a beginning.
- Stress is NOT a Migraine trigger. It is what is called an exacerbating factor that makes Migraineurs more susceptible to their triggers just as stress makes anyone more susceptible to the virus that brings on the common cold.
Here are some things you can do to help any Migraineurs you know:
- If fragrances are a trigger for them, don't wear perfume or other fragranced products around them. Your perfume can make them as ill as the odor of raw sewage would probably make you.
- If you're out with a friend or coworker when they get a Migraine, offer to drive them home. The nausea, oversensitivity to light and sound, slowed reflexes, and other symptoms makes it difficult and potentially dangerous for them to drive.
- If you have a coworker or employee whose Migraines are triggered by your office lighting, work with them to change it.
- When a Migraineur has to change or cancel plans with you, be patient with them. I can promise you that it gets really old for them having to put their lives on hold for Migraines. Better yet, if you'd planned to go out, see if the person with the Migraine is up to a brief visit. Make them tea, get them an ice pack, and just sit with them -- if they're up to it. Migraines can be very lonely and isolating.
All in all, remember that:
- Migraine is a disease. We have no choice in the matter. Sometimes medications work; sometimes they don't. It's not our fault.
- Migraine is physical, not psychological.
- you can make matters better or worse for the Migraineurs in your life.
Just show Migraineurs the same consideration that you would anyone who is ill. They'll appreciate it. And you'll be a hero in my eyes.
Coping with severe headaches and Migraine disease for over 40 years has brought me to the realization that learning about Migraine disease and headaches can allow us to work with our doctors as treatment partners toward fewer Migraine, better health, and a better quality of life. Please join us at MyMigraineConnection.com for information and support or for a transcript of this podcast. From MyMigraineConnection.com and the HealthCentral Network, this is Teri Robert reminding you that you can live well with Migraine disease and headaches.