Stellar Migraines: The Journey of Celebrities with Migraines

The popular public perspective is that all celebrities are rich, famous and living the good life. While there is some truth in this, the reality is that celebrities are just like everyone else, most especially when it comes to health concerns. Subjected to long hours, often without breaks and with multi-faceted career obligations, chronic migraine is a difficult hurdle many well-known celebrities face.

Migraine pain does not discriminate and can affect anyone at any time in their lives. This can be extremely daunting to individuals whose careers require long and inconsistent hours, and may be prone to stressful situations. Celebrities go through long hours of shooting films requiring stamina, they are constantly subjected to paparazzi and public scrutiny, and are commissioned to make a number of public appearances (mostly at loud, crowded, and bright places). Often, their difficult struggle with chronic pain, in this case, chronic migraines, is often overlooked. 

Here are a few celebrities who have been struggling with migraines:

  • ben-affleck-celebrities-with-migrainesBen Affleck
    Popular media sources have reported actor, Ben Affleck was sent to the hospital after a serious migraine while working on set. 
  • Elle Macpherson
    elle macpherson celebrities with migrainesSupermodel, Elle Macpherson knows her migraine triggers well. Always under intense lights and photo sessions, Macpherson takes a preventive approach by using regular acupuncture sessions to keep migraines at bay.

    janet jackson celebrities with migraines


  • Janet Jackson
    Musician, Janet Jackson had to cancel tour engagements due to vestibular migraines which triggers vertigo.
  • Carly Simon
    carly simon celebrities with migrainesSinger-songwriter, Carly Simon reports suffering from migraines for years. Her migraines were often triggered by her social activities and most of the time sent her home with pain and tension. Over time she learned to prevent the attacks by avoiding alcohol and coffee. 
  • Marcia Cross
    marcia cross celebrities with migrainesMarcia Cross, actress and star of Desperate Housewives, suffered from chronic migraines for years until she realized certain foods triggered her migraines. She carefully keeps track of her triggers to avoid the attacks.
  • elvis presley celebrities with migrainesElvis Presley 
    In his time while they were poorly understood, the King, Elvis Presley suffered from severe migraines. His pain was so terrible he had to turn to strong medication such as Demoral for the pain.
  • whoopi goldberg celebrities with migrainesWhoopi Goldberg 
    Famous actress and The View show host, Whoopi Goldberg, has had a lengthy history of chronic migraines. Whoopi is also an executive producer of Strong Medicine, a Lifetime series with a storyline showing one of the most accurate television depictions of migraine attacks.
  • kristin chenoweth celebrities with migrainesKristin Chenoweth 
    Kristin Chenoweth who plays Glinda the good witch on the Broadway hit, Wicked, suffers constantly from migraines. In 2009 after winning an award, Chenoweth was looked after by paramedics during the Emmy Awards ceremony due to a severe migraine attack.  

Celebrities Helping End Migraines

  • Cindy McCain
    cindy mccain celebrities with migrainesSenator John McCain’s wife, Cindy McCain is a chronic migraine sufferer who is an active advocate for raising awareness for the proper diagnosis and treatment of chronic migraines. She has recently teamed up with renowned migraine specialists and launched the 36 Million Migraine Campaign on the 26th of June, 2013. The campaign’s namesake represents the 36 million Americans suffering from migraines. 

    The organization gathered and presented advanced research all over the world to highlight and address the funding needs for promising treatments and groundbreaking scientific advancements. Of the $260 million needed for research progress, the National Institute of Health only allocates approximately $16 million a year. Cindy McCain’s initiative aims to reduce the gap through awareness. 

  • serena williams celebrities with migrainesSerena Williams
    Tennis phenom, Serena Williams suffered from inexplicable migraine pains for almost five years before being properly diagnosed with menstrual migraines. In an interview, Williams said she had always thought she was having regular headaches until she underwent a thorough evaluation. Last year, Serena launched “RALLY for Menstrual Migraine” to help raise awareness.
  • Lisa Kudrow
    lisa kudrow celebrities with migrainesLisa Kudrow, Emmy award winning actress and star of the popular sitcom, Friends, suffered from debilitating migraines in her younger years. At times her pain was so terrible she would have to return home from family outings.

    Her father, Dr. Lee Kudrow, a migraine specialist, discovered that lidocaine drops used intra-nasally reduce migraine painsHis research was published by the Journal of American Migraine Association. Lisa is proud of her father’s work and is known to be an active advocate for migraine awareness.  

More celebrities are coming forward into the public sector every year to highlight this debilitating health concern so that more awareness and funding can be allocated to its research. This momentum will help the world understand migraines better, produce groundbreaking treatments that will lift the suffering of those in pain, and end the stigma that has driven migraine sufferers in isolation. 

We must all come together and support the migraine community. In the words of Cindy McCain, “As Americans, we must recognize the scope of migraine’s impact and deal realistically with this disabling disease. Only then can we move ahead swiftly toward better treatments – and, one day perhaps, a cure.”

If you or a friend you know is involved in an organization aimed at migraine advocacy and spreading awareness, give the migraine community a shout out! We’d love to hear about you and your efforts. 

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Image Credits (in order of apperance): Intemporelle | Erin Lassahn PhotographyEva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music PhotographerJoseph TimmonsAlan LightKirk We r j k p r u n c z y kseanjamescamerongreginhollywoodDr. AkomodiWarren County CVBmakoto2007

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