Sponsored by Med-IQ and supported by an educational grant by Teva Pharmaceuticals.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve suffered from migraines. I think it began in my teen years right around the time I started my period. On one such incident, I was in such intense pain that I passed out while I was in school. When I woke up, I was in the nurses office and my mother was en route to fetch me.
I missed some days of school because of these troubling migraines. No one knew what it was back then. I suspect that my parents thought that maybe I was over-exaggerating about how much my head was hurting. I felt alone most of the time when I was experiencing migraines and I would try to just sleep it off. In the dark, I could deal with the pounding—the severity. Just turn off the lights, please.
Now that I am in my forties, I don’t have them as much as I used to. There are certain triggers (like not having caffeine or my monthly cycle) that sometimes brings them on. The last bad one I had was last May. It totally ruined my evening as I had planned to go out on a dinner date, and I ended up becoming nauseous and throwing up.
Migraines and headaches are more than just pain—they disturb your quality of life.
Since many people don’t know what they are, I want to share with you some information about the headaches and chronic migraines. Migraines that are untreated can last from 4 to 72 hours. They are accompanied by nausea (as I shared earlier) or sensitivity to light and/or sound. For one to be classified a chronic migraine sufferer, he or she must experience headache symptoms 15 or more days a month.
I am not a chronic sufferer since I don’t get them that often, but as someone who has experienced many of them for over twenty years, it can be debilitating, painful, and lonely.
If you are a migraine sufferer, you do not have to suffer alone. And if you know someone who does experience them, you can assist them.
There are people that can help.
While prepping for this post, I participated in a conference call with two neurologists who shared advice on how to prepare for a doctor’s appointment to discuss your migraines. Robert G. Kaniecki, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Stewart J. Tepper, MD, Professor Neurology Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and practicing at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, gave great insight on being proactive during your doctor visit.
The doctors recommended that patients learn to “tell your story” and shared three items about which you should discuss with your doctor:
- TIME: How many days per month do you have headaches, and for approximately how long do they last?
- SYMPTOMS: Do you have nausea with the headaches? What about throbbing? Any other symptoms?
- IMPACT: How does the headache impact your life? What level of disability do migraines cause? Does it prevent you from going to work or school? Are you unable to take care of your children? Does it inhibit your ability to move through your day? This is critical information to share.
If you are as transparent as you can be about your migraine history, your physician can better help come up with a plan to help you so you can take control of your migraines and headaches.
I wish I had this information many years ago!
During the conference call with the doctors, I also learned that migraines are hereditary in most cases. My paternal Aunt also suffered from migraines, so that connection made so much sense to me.
You can do something about your migraine moments. Schedule an appointment with your physician and use the tips above—remember to share your story.