Do you suffer from migraines? I certainly do. It was a lot worse when I was younger and led an unhealthy lifestyle. Back in those days, I’ll get a migraine once every two weeks or so, and I remember them being debilitating. Once I shed the excess weight, I still got migraines, but it was a lot less.
One frustration that I often had, and perhaps still have to this day, is the lack of understanding by people around me. You see, some people have never suffered a migraine, while others might have suffered a mild version of it once or twice before. Today’s article discusses the stages of a migraine, as well as some myths associated with it.
Migraines develop in four stages. Patients with migraines with aura, also known as classic migraines, are most likely to experience all four stages. Patients who have common migraines or migraines without aura will have the same stages, but are not consciously aware of them. The interval between migraines is sometimes referred to as the fifth stage of a migraine.
Stage One – Prodromal
The prodromal phase usually begins one or two days prior to the actual migraine headache. Many call this the “premonition” phase. Feelings during this phase are all over the map. Each sufferer has their own personal prodromal profile. Some are giddy, happy, and full of energy, far more so than usual. Others feel a headache start with fatigue, weakness, and irritability. Anything can spark a migraine and each person has to learn their own prodromal signs if they want to learn to stave off the migraine.
Stage Two – Aura
This phase is absent for most sufferers, since most suffer from common migraine, migraine without aura. For those who experience classic migraine with aura, auras can begin anywhere from five minutes to an hour before the headache begins. Auras are visual effects sufferers experience. Objects appear to have bright auras or halos around them. Lightning flashes arc over the field of vision until sight is whited out just before the pain begins.
Stage Three – Headache
This phase lasts anywhere from four to seventy-two hours. Most common is a one-sided headache with a throbbing or pulsing characteristic. The headache is frequently accompanied by stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, sound, smell, or some combination of the three.
Stage Four – Postdrome
Coming away from a migraine can be as unpleasant as building up to one. Postdrome is often characterised by tenderness of the head, neck, and stomach. Weakness and fatigue are also common in this phase.
There are a number of commonly held beliefs about migraines that make it hard for sufferers to get proper diagnosis and treatment. Here are a few of them. This is not meant to be a rant, but a call for understanding, especially for those who do not suffer from migraines, but have friends or family who do.
One: Migraines are not real.
Not true. Migraines are a biologic primary headache disorder. Even migraine pain is not confined to the head, though that is generally where it is worst. Besides, if it’s not you suffering it, of course it would be easy to dismiss it.
Two: Migraines have a known cause.
Sadly, this is not always the case. There have been several interesting theories put forward in the last decade, but no single, definitive biological cause of migraines has been identified thus far. It is usually a combination of factors.
Three: Sufferers have the same symptoms.
No, they don’t. This is one of the things that make migraines so hard to diagnose, particularly if a patient’s doctor is only familiar with the most common symptoms.
Four: A doctor can tell if it’s a migraine or not.
Not always. The wide spectrum of symptoms that can accompany migraine can make it difficult to diagnose, more so if the patient is not forthcoming with their doctor about all their symptoms.
Five: Migraines are curable.
Again, no. Once properly diagnosed most sufferers still have to devote a lot of time and energy to managing their condition through medications, natural and homeopathic remedies, and diet and lifestyle changes. The various available coping methods work differently for each individual, so there is not even a single protocol of care.
Six: Migraines are a woman’s headache.
Women do outnumber the men by threefold, but there is no evidence the condition is sex-linked in any way.
Seven: Only adults get migraines.
Migraines have been diagnosed in adolescents, children, and even infants.
Eight: Every headache a sufferer gets is a migraine
Not true. Migraine sufferers can have regular sinus, tension, or stress headaches just like anyone else.
I hope that if nothing else, this post has taught you to be more sensitive to the needs of others, and have a greater understanding of those who genuinely do suffer from migraines. Of course, one thing you can do about it if you are a sufferer is to avoid the triggers, if you know what they are. The other, is to focus on living a healthy lifestyle in general.
Not directly on topic, but these are good:
Also published on Medium.
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