#DecodingPain: Migraine Is Not Just a Bad Headache, Not Even Close!
WHO lists migraine among the world's top ten disabling illnesses. Here‘s demystifying the disease for you.
(FIT is #DecodingPain from 26 July to 30 August, where we pull apart the many layers of pain–the sensation, the causes, the stigma, and the treatments. Have questions you would like pain experts to answers? Send them in at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Migraines aren’t headaches gone bad the same way as Godzilla’s are no lizards. If you’re typing a status update that says you’re having a migraine, then you really have no clue what that intense, pounding pain is.
A migraine attack is like repeatedly being hit by a spinning fan blade while you vomit and feel dizzy, the lights and sounds makes your head feel like its being compressed by a two-ton brick while someone hits the temple with a hammer.
Then the vision starts to blur and everything from the lip to your fingers feels numb as if you’ve had a cocaine shot.
This can go on for days or hours at random intervals.
Still, most people who get headaches like to think they understand migraines.
Again, a headache and a migraine are not even in the same league. Scroll below to understand some common misconceptions around the disease:
Migraine Is Not Just a Woman’s Problem!
Myth: Migraine is a woman’s problem, her inability to deal with the stress and anxiety of life. It’s her emotional outburst linked to ‘that time in the month’.
Fact: The World Health Organisation describes migraines as one of the most debilitating medical conditions related to the (temporary) abnormal activity in the brain. Hormonal changes related to the menstrual cycle are a trigger of migraines for some women, but it is not related to emotions. The drop in the levels of estrogen right before periods can activate a chain of neurons in a specific part of the brain which results in throbbing pain.
If Your Head Is Exploding But Mumbai Looks Like This:
Then it is a regular headache.
But It Might Be Migraine If Mumbai Looks Like This:
In this case, don’t grab a cocktail of painkillers- see a specialist as soon as you can.
Hormones Is Just One Piece Of the Puzzle, It Actually Runs In Families
Migraine is genetic in more than HALF of the cases. In fact there are more than 40 different types of genes which can cause migraines.
Harsh lights, coffee, alcohol and even strong smells are among the hundreds of environmental factors that can trigger migraine in people with a genetic predisposition towards them.
It’s Not Just Older People Who Get Migraines
People of all ages have migraines. According to the World Health Organisation, 5 to 10% school going children suffer from migraine but are often under-diagnosed because of the myth that migraine cannot attack before your 20s.
All Migraines Do Not Have An Aura
If you have all the other symptoms of migraine but not the aura before a full-blown attack, don’t postpone seeking neurological help thinking you’re fine.
All migraines are not alike, there are several types and only only a quarter of migraineurs (yes, that’s a term!) have episodes with aura.
Very rarely to people have the aura with every migraine attack.
And again, you might be one of those people that gets migraine auras without any pain at all and just walk around with a light show dancing across your retinas.
How To Deal With a Throbbing Migraine
Everyone has a different ritual for getting through their migraines.
Some people just need to pop in their prescription medicines or over-the-counter pain relief, and for other’s it is holistic treatments like homeopathy or essential oils or an icepack.
For some it’s yoga in a dark room to release the tension.
Lavender, peppermint and basil oils work wonders for others. And some will just have to sleep through it in a dark, quiet room.
Make changes in your diet and stay away from foods which contain MSG and even alcohol. Inflammation is the cause of many severe migraines and can be reduced by having omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseeds can also help provide relief.
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