Migraines currently affect over 35 million Americans. That being said, it’s shocking how many questions still remain unanswered about what causes an attack and how to treat the source rather than mask the symptoms. Sadly, there is no guarantee those who suffer from migraines will even get a correct diagnosis.One of the many challenges associated with diagnosing migraines is that – nearly all symptoms can only be described objectively. If a physician is looking for subjective findings, they could draw inaccurate conclusions about the severity of your pain. Migraine symptoms can also be related to a number of other conditions, making a proper diagnosis even more difficult. That’s why it’s imperative for sufferers to self educate. First and foremost, it’s time to elicit the truth by busting these 10 common misconceptions about migraine relief:
Misconception #1: Migraines Are Just Bad Headaches
Busted: Migraines are a classified condition, characterized by a number of neurological symptoms, including severe, chronic head pain that can last up to 72 hours. In fact, migraine sufferers account for nearly 800,000 emergency room visits per year because pain can escalate to such a severe level. Migraines are also accompanied by visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting and acute sensitivity to light, sound and smell; all of which are believed to be caused by changes within the brain. Additionally, headaches and migraines do not share the same bodily reactions. Narrowing blood vessels are to blame for regular headaches but migraines are believed to be associated with the expansion of or inflammation of blood vessels.
Misconception #2: Migraines Only Affect Women
Busted: Migraines affect 18% of adult women and 6% of adult men. For individuals under the age of 12, the percentages are equal. It’s the hormonal changes that occur at puberty that shift the numbers, making women more susceptible to the condition but certainly not excluding men.
Misconception #3: Women Get More Migraines Because They’re Emotional
Busted: This misconception couldn’t be more ridiculous. Migraines are linked to specific changes occurring in the brain. Experts believe most people are born with whatever neurological trait causes a migraine and emotional stress can certainly act as a trigger, but it most certainly isn’t the root cause. Not to mention the millions of women who experience emotional stress without the accompaniment of migraine pain.
You may also be interested in this article: Top 8 Myths for Relieving Migraines
Misconception #4: Painkillers Are Enough to Eliminate Migraine Pain
Busted: Migraines invite a number of symptoms that one medication alone is not equipped to resolve. Painkillers may help to mask pain symptoms, but it does nothing for nausea, vomiting, hyper sensory sensitivity or visual disturbances and in truth, isn’t exactly targeting the believed source of pain. Additionally, not all migraine sufferers respond well to painkillers, as they can cause unwanted side effects that make living with migraine episodes even more unbearable. For most migraine sufferers, a combination of medications including anti-depressant, anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea drugs are needed.
Misconception #5: Migraines Don’t Run in The Family
Busted: Research proves this misconception is way wrong. In fact, a child with one parent that suffers from migraines has a 50% chance of also developing the condition. If both parents suffer from migraines, that percentage jumps up to 75%. Even if a relative experiences migraines, there is a 20% chance of the condition developing in a family member.
Misconception #6: Specific Foods Trigger Migraines
Busted: It’s true that some migraine sufferers are sensitive to certain foods like cheese, chocolate or processed meats. These food products contain tyramine (a natural compound), caffeine and nitrates that may trigger a migraine. But many others never experience an episode related to food. To know for certain whether a specific food is a trigger for you, thoroughly log diet and symptoms in a migraine diary to identify any patterns. Experts suggest timing may also play a part in how food affects migraines.
Misconception #7: Migraines Are Caused By Psychological Problems
Busted: This misconception is a little tricky. Migraines, depression and anxiety frequently co-occur but research hasn’t definitively proven that one condition actually causes the other. Many individuals with diagnosed depression or anxiety don’t experience migraines and many people with migraines don’t struggle with depression or anxiety.
Misconception #8: Successful Women Are More Susceptible to Migraines Because they Excessively Multitask
Busted: Sure, migraines can be triggered by stress, but the source of that stress makes no difference and it certainly isn’t a problem only faced by women. Men struggle from daily stressors, too. The bottom line is, migraines are biological. They may be influenced by factors like stress but their existence is caused by changes occurring within the brain and body.
Look past misconceptions and at FAQs in this article: Frequently Asked Questions About Migraines
Misconception #9: Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) Causes Migraines
Busted: Migraines and PMS may be occasionally connected, but generalizing the correlation is incorrect. Not all women experience PMS and not all PMS is accompanied by migraines. Experts believe estrogen levels, which fluctuate in women throughout the month, do play a part in contributing to menstrual migraines, however, not all women experience this form of migraine pain (which presents a few days before or after menstruation).
Misconception #10: Caffeine Can Help Relieve Migraine Symptoms
Busted: Caffeine can actually trigger migraines for some sufferers. Caffeine is a stimulant and when utilized in large doses on a daily basis (more than four cups of coffee per day), individuals can develop dependency issues that may affect their experience of migraines. For those who seldom consume caffeine, it could help a mild migraine but for many others, it can contribute to their next episode.
It’s necessary as a member of the migraine community to perform your own due diligence. By actively searching for answers to your questions, you can develop a better understanding of what might be causing your migraine pain and how you may be able to better treat episodes. There is a lot of incorrect information out there, so be sure to depend on reputable sources. What misconceptions can you bust?
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