|RE: Understanding Migraine
Disease and Migraineurs
reading this, someone close to you is a Migraineur, someone diagnosed with
Migraine, a genetic neurological disease. Migraine is one of the most
misunderstood, underdiagnosed and undertreated of all diseases. Unless
you've experienced the pain and other debilitating symptoms of Migraine yourself, it is very difficult to
comprehend. It is not an exaggeration to say that some people have
committed suicide to escape the pain. In addition to the extreme head
pain, Migraine can be accompanied by other symptoms including nausea,
vomiting, dizziness, extreme sensitivity to light and sound, temporary
loss of vision, inability to concentrate, difficulty in speaking/finding
the right words, depression, panic attacks, and far more. The slightest
movement can cause such pain that Migraineurs have described it as "an ice
pick in my eye," "my head breaking into pieces," and "my brain exploding." To put it
plainly, Migraine can be absolutely devastating.
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 37 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
- 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
- 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 in November, 2001.
- 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
- 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.
The Migraineur(s) in your life need
your help and understanding. They need you to realize that they cannot
help being ill, they are not "having headaches for attention," and they
are sometimes unable to care for themselves. If they need medical
attention, they need someone to take them and be with them. As well as
being extremely painful physically, Migraine can be devastating
emotionally and to relationships and careers. Since the disease is so
misunderstood, Migraineurs often feel alone, isolated, and desolate.
They also often feel guilty because they are not able to "be there" for
their family and friends as much as they want to be and because they may
have to miss days of work. The Migraineur(s) you know need not only your
help with getting their medicines and any medical care they may need;
they need your moral support every bit as badly. A good, solid support
system is as important to Migraineurs as their health care teams. YOU
are very important to them. That's why it's important that you
If you have any questions or need more
information, please email me at