Understanding Migraines

22 Things About Migraines You May Not Know

Teri Robert Sep 28, 2012 (updated Oct 29, 2014)
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Migraine is a disease
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
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 migraine aura...
The aura phase of a migraine attack is experienced by only 25 to 30 percent of migraineurs.
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Smelling things...
Smelling things...
An olfactory hallucination, smelling an odor that isn’t actually present, can occur during the migraine aura.
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Hearing things...
Hearing things...
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 occur at all ages
Migraines can occur at any age – from young children to senior citizens.
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Sinus headaches
Sinus headaches
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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Migraine specialists
Migraine specialists
Neurologists aren’t necessarily migraine specialists, and migraine specialists aren’t necessarily neurologists.
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Migraines and hysterectomy
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
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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Migraine triggers
Migraine triggers
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
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 can be disabling
Migraine is the twelfth most disabling disorder in the United States.
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Severe migraine attacks
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
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
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
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 isn
Migraine is not a new disease or diagnosis. Hippocrates described migraine around 400 BC.
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An ancient migraine remedy
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?
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
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
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.