22 Things About Migraines You May Not Know
Sep 28, 2012 (updated Apr 16, 2015)
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Migraine is a disease
Migraine is a neurological disease thought to be caused by genetics and overactive neurons in the brain.
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Migraines aren't headaches
Migraines aren’t exactly headaches. Migraines can occur with no headache at all and are then described as “silent” or “acephalgic.”
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The migraine aura...
The aura phase of a migraine attack is experienced by only 25 to 30 percent of migraineurs.
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An olfactory hallucination, smelling an odor that isn’t actually present, can occur during the migraine aura.
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An auditory hallucination, hearing sounds that aren't actually present, can occur during the migraine aura.
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Migraines occur at all ages
Migraines can occur at any age – from young children to senior citizens.
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Studies have shown that 90 percent of what people think are sinus headaches are really migraines. A sinus headache is very rare without an infection.
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Neurologists aren’t necessarily migraine specialists, and migraine specialists aren’t necessarily neurologists.
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Migraines and hysterectomy
When women experience menopause naturally, one-third experience worse migraines. When women experience menopause following a hysterectomy, two-thirds experience worse migraines.
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Medications can backfire
Taking migraine abortive medications, pain relievers, or alternating them more than two or three days a week can cause medication overuse headache.
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Migraines don’t just happen; they have triggers. Trigger identification and management is an essential element of migraine management.
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No medications developed for migraine
There are no medications on the market that were specifically developed for the prevention of migraines.
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Migraine can be disabling
Migraine is the twelfth most disabling disorder in the United States.
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Severe migraine attacks
According to a World Health Organization analysis, severe migraine attacks are as disabling as quadriplegia (paralysis of both arms and legs).
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Migraines and suicide
Suicide attempts are three times more likely among people who have migraine with aura than among people who do not have migraine.
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Migraines, women, and cardiovascular disease
More than 1,400 American women with migraine with aura die each year from cardiovascular diseases compared to women who do not have migraine.
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Migraine and abuse
Studies have shown that a history of mental and physical abuse can affect the frequency and severity of migraines
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Migraine isn't new
Migraine is not a new disease or diagnosis. Hippocrates described migraine around 400 BC.
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An ancient migraine remedy
Skulls dating from 7000-3000 BC have been discovered with holes from trepanation, an ancient migraine remedy of drilling holes in the skull.
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More girls or boys?
Up to about the age of seven, the number of boys and girls who have migraines is about equal. After that, three times as many girls/women have migraines as boys/men.
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When to see a doctor
If you're having your worst migraine ever or symptoms that are unusual for you or frightening, see a doctor as soon as possible. You need to be sure this IS a migraine and not something more serious, such as a stroke.
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Migraine and vasodilation
Until recently, it was thought that vasodilation (widening of blood vessels) always occurred during a migraine. Recently, researchers have observed some migraines with no vasodilation.