A very bad, discomforting one-sided headache is often wrongly labeled as Migraine by most people.
In this blog, the basic understanding of Migraine and some most common myths associated with it are explained.
A migraine is a medical condition in which the person experiences severe throbbing or pulsating pain on either side of the head due to which the person is unable to complete or concentrate on his daily routine activities.
It may or may not be preceded by an Aura. An Aura is a phenomenon which occurs before the actual attack of migraine and, usually, it lasts for less than an hour. Most people report visual disturbances, such as seeing colored patterns, blurring of the vision, etc. Some individuals experience numbness or tingling sensation in the body parts, altered perception of objects i.e. perceiving objects larger or smaller than they are.
Causes Of Migraine:
The exact cause of a Migraine is not yet understood. It is believed to be a Psychosomatic disorder. There are several triggering factors which may vary in each individual. Some of the commonly noted causes are:
- Emotional triggers: Anxiety and stress may precipitate an attack.
- Dietary triggers: Irregular meals and having foods with high Tyramine content like aged wines, aged cheese, overripe fruits are some common triggering factors.
- Hormonal triggers: Women experience an increased frequency of attacks during menses due to hormonal fluctuations.
- Miscellaneous: A lack of sleep, jet lag, changes in the weather, physical or mental overexertion, certain medicines like Oral Contraceptive Pills, Hormone Replacement Therapy, etc. may trigger your migraine.
Some of the most common myths prevailing about migraine are:
- Migraine Is Just A Bad Headache: Headache is a broad term that includes various types, one of which is a migraine. Migraine is often associated with symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, irritability, increased sensitivity to loud noises or bright lights, apart from its characteristic symptoms mentioned above.
- All Headaches Are Migraine: International Headache Society has given detailed guidelines for the diagnosis of Migraine and its differentiation from several other types of Headaches. Tension Headache, Cluster Headache, Sinus Headache, Hypnic Headache, and Neuralgia (nerve pain) are some of the commonly observed types. Migraine can be distinguished from the rest based on its character, duration, severity, and associated symptoms. You may visit your nearest physician who can help with the exact diagnosis of your headache.
- It Is A Migraine Only If It Has An Aura: Aura is not found in all people who suffer from a migraine. A migraine with aura and without aura, both kinds are prevalent. Only 25%-30% of people report Aura which consists of symptoms described above.
- Migraine Is My Fault: Around 75%-80% of people with migraines report having a strong family medical history of such headaches. Genetics and above mentioned triggering factors both have a role to play. It is a complex neurobiological condition for which self-accusation is not wise.
- OTC Painkillers Will Treat My Migraine: Painkillers, when taken in excess or very frequently, may cause something known as Rebound Headache. When the effect of medicine weans off, the pain of Migraine resurfaces worse than before and becomes even more difficult to treat. Also, simple painkillers do not help in treating all the symptoms associated with a migraine. Taking a lot of medication to treat an acute migraine attack could lead to more frequent and more severe migraine attacks in the future.
- Caffeine Is The Cause Of My Migraine: This statement is not completely true. Some individuals may have caffeine as their triggering factor, however, certain studies also suggest that caffeine reduces the same pain in other individuals. This is the very reason for caffeine being the content of several painkiller medications.
- Vitamin And Mineral Supplements Will Prevent The Attacks: There is no single supplement or combination of them that has been proven to relieve or prevent migraines in every case, as the triggers of migraine vary in each individual. Although there have been a few studies that suggest that Vitamin B2, Magnesium, and Coenzyme Q10 may help, the same may not be applicable in every case of Migraine.
- A Proper Diet Plan Will Treat My Migraine: There is no perfect migraine diet that will treat your Migraine. Identifying and avoiding your triggers during the high-risk period will certainly help.
- There Is No Effective Treatment For Migraine: There are treatment options that can help treat the tendency of Migraine and even prevent the attacks. Avoiding known triggers certainly helps. Migraine is mainly considered as a psychosomatic illness. Homeopathic medicines have a remarkable impact on the Psyche of the patient; thus, homeopathy helps in reducing the ill-effects of the causative stress. Homeopathic treatment is very effective in treating migraines. The medicines help in reducing the intensity and frequency of the migraine attacks. The need and dependency on conventional treatment can also be reduced.
- I Have To Bear The Attacks During Pregnancy: Conventional allopathic medicines for Migraine are not recommended during pregnancy due to their harmful effects on the baby. However, you need not bear the attacks of migraine throughout your pregnancy. Non-drug therapies (relaxation, sleep, ice packs, and stress reduction techniques) should be tried first to treat migraines in women who are pregnant. For the treatment of acute migraine attacks, consult your physician before taking any medicines during pregnancy. Homeopathic medicines are an excellent alternative for Pregnant women who suffer from Migraine, as homeopathic medicines are safe completely and can be taken even by newborn babies.
These myths may spread false information and demoralize the patient. Thus, knowing the correct information about Migraine can lead to its exact diagnosis with appropriate and effective treatment.
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- Written by Dr. Ritu Chawla, Associate doctor to Dr. Rajesh Shah