Monday, October 20, 2014
Friday, January 02, 2009 riverleigh, Community Member, asks

Q: What do you tell you ER when you have migraine?

I have migraine so severely that my medication fails to halt it.  At that point (usually suffering through two or more days) I will force my self to go to the local ER.  I am treated as a drug seeker (I am 54 a nurse, working full time, raising a family, a Christian, but NOT a drug seeker).  I am so embarrassed and yet in so much pain and in so much distress I have to have help-but I wait until the utter last minute to go to the ER.  What do you tell a doctor who a. thinks you have "just a headache" and b. who thinks you are there for a "fix'?  How is it doctors don't recognize how debilitating a migraine is? Why is there so much stigmatism?  Very frustrating.  Riverleigh

Answer This
Answers (4)
Eileen Gray, Health Guide
1/ 5/09 11:04am

Hi Riverleigh!  


Ah, yes! The ER can be very frustrating to a Migraineur! Sounds like you know the protocol though! Any Migraine lasting longer than 72 hours is called Status Migrainousand needs attention immediately. This usually happens after doctor hours, of course, so the ER or urgent care is our only option.


Please do talk with your doctor about what you're to do when you need care outside of office hours. Has your doctor prescribed "rescue" medications for you to use when your regular Migraine medications fail? Having rescue meds can often help keep us out of the ER.


We do have some very helpful paperwork here on our site for just this very thing. In When to See a Doctor for a Migraine or Headache , Teri Robert walks you through how to decide when it's time to seek medical attention. We also have Emergency Migraine and Headache Care: Forms to Help that you can bring to your doctor for him/her to fill out, as well as go over how they would like to see you treated in the ER....such as which medications s/he would prefer the ER staff to use on you if you end up in this situation. 


I know you're going through a rough time. If you'd like some additional support, come join our discussion forum. You'll need to register again once there because it's a separate membership database, but you can use the same member name, email address, and password that you used here. You can find our forum at


Good luck,

Eileen Gray

KRAZYKAT, Community Member
1/ 2/09 11:14pm

There are forms you can get for you reg Dr. for fill out for you to show the ER Drs.  I think you can even get some on this site.  But if not you can just ask for your Dr. for the just incase info.  Hope this helps.

AlaskanMom, Community Member
1/ 2/09 11:15pm

I answered a similar question about getting a doctor to understand that migraines are not a myth. I used this technique when I received apalling care for my three year old who needed to be admitted for type I diabetes (I guess being type I diabetes personally doesn't give me the ability to also recognize the symptoms in my own child!).


Gather all of the most recent medical information on migraines, especially the ones you suffer from if you have had it diagnosed. Make sure you have current statistics as well. Bring a list of FDA approved drugs and doses for the managment of migraine pain. Find out when your hospital is having it's board meetings. Ask how many are on the board so you can bring copies for everyone to follow along. If the person asks why, tell them you would like to speak to the board about a concern you have. Don't say anything more. Go to the next meeting, with a pen and paper. Take notes on who is present, how many are on the board, what doctors are present. If anyone asks if you have anything to ask of the board, tell them, "Not at this time. I am just observing this time." This gets their attention and will make the right people sweat. Before the next meeting, make sure you practice what you will say. You don't really want to sound rehearsed, but just so you get the jitters out. Then, when asked if you have anything to say (usually, there is a portion of time for general comments/questions by the public) make sure you begin positively. Thank the board for giving you the opportunity to address an issue that is of concern to many in the community. Then, just tell them what happened. Let them know that you are not seeking for anyone's punishment, but wish to educate so that others who suffer from migraines are not ignored and put at risk for far more serious complications. Make sure to pass out your information and let them know you are willing to work with the hospital so that they can be ready to give more compassionate and knowledgable care to those in your community who suffer from migraines. A really good way to nail home the severe need for education, is to break down the numbers for them. Find out how many migraine sufferers are in your state if possible, and try to break it down to how many possible sufferers are in your area. If it's a large number, stress that those people are being neglected and forced to suffer more for the lack of understanding. Then, thank the board for hearing your concerns. Try not to be too emotional (some are uncomfortable and embarrassed by emotions), but if it is emotional for you, and it's honest, don't stifle yourself. Be humble and thankful and you will garner sympathy. Good luck. I hope this helps.

inga, Community Member
1/ 3/09 1:03am

 I too have felt this way before! One thing I would do is confront your doctor about this and let him/her know. Talking to your doctor I feel is the first step. Next always go to the same ER. If you hop around to different ERs it will look like you are drug seeking. And the biggest thing I have always done is requested that they send a copy of there report to my doctor so that she can have a copy for her records. One more big thing that I do is bring in my meds that I am currently prescribed by my doctor, let them know everything that I have taken to get rid of my migraine and that it hasn't worked and thats why I am there!  I hope this helps, theres nothing worse then feeling so miserable and then having the people that are supposed to help you look at you like a druggy!

Answer This

We hope you find this general health information helpful. Please note however, that this Q&A is meant to support not replace the professional medical advice you receive from your doctor. No information in the Answers above is intended to diagnose or treat any condition. The views expressed in the Answers above belong to the individuals who posted them and do not necessarily reflect the views of Remedy Health Media. Remedy Health Media does not review or edit content posted by our community members, but reserves the right to remove any material it deems inappropriate.

By riverleigh, Community Member— Last Modified: 12/23/10, First Published: 01/02/09