If you’ve ever experienced a migraine, you know that it doesn’t even come close to a headache. They can be extremely painful and hellish and doctors today still don’t completely understand them. As a result, there are quite a few migraine myths and misconceptions that you may have heard of and should stop believing. Here, we debunk a few of them.
A Migraine is Just a Headache
One of the most common migraine myths is that a migraine is just a headache. While a migraine is a type of headache, the pain you experience from one is significantly greater than that of a regular headache. Migraines are also associated with symptoms such as nausea, light sensitivity, vomiting, sensitivity to sound, blurry vision and vertigo, which differentiate them from the typical headache one may experience.
Caffeine Causes Migraines
Some people believe that caffeine is the cause of their migraines. This is not 100% true. A common treatment for migraines is over-the-counter medication containing painkillers and caffeine. Also, some people claim that caffeinated drinks actually help alleviate some of the pain caused by the migraine.
Migraines Have a Distinct Cause
One of the biggest migraine myths is the notion that migraines have a distinct cause. For most people, identifying what set off their migraine is next to impossible.
Even doctors haven’t been able to pinpoint exactly what causes migraines. What they do know is that migraines may be a result of changes in hormones in the body. The hormone Serotonin causes blood vessels to constrict when its levels in the body are high. When Serotonin levels are low, it causes the blood vessels to swell up. It is this swelling that can cause pain.
Scientists have also identified some genes associated with migraines, indicating that there may be some heredity factors associated with migraines as well.
Only Women Get Migraines
Another one of the most common migraine myths is that men don’t get migraines. While it’s true that about 18% of women experience migraines, compared to 6% of men (according to this study), men are not exempt from getting migraines. The reason why you predominantly hear about women experiencing migraines is due to the fact that men tend to internalize or misidentify the symptoms of their head pain and are less likely to seek treatment.
Women may experience more migraines due to estrogen having a role in triggering migraines or other hormones that are present in higher quantities in the female body.
Only Adults Have Migraines
Unfortunately, migraines aren’t only prevalent in adults, they’re also common in children. Kids as young as 18 months old have been found to have migraines.
According to the Migraine Research Foundation, an estimated 10% of school-age children suffer from migraines and up to 28% of adolescents between 15-19 years are affected by it. Kids though, tend to have fewer and shorter migraine attacks than adults, but childhood migraines can be just as disabling and can affect the child’s quality of life.
Migraines Can’t Interfere With Your Work or Social Life
Migraines can be quite disabling making it very hard to continue on with your day. That may mean missing work or cancelling plans with friends and family. You may need to limit your sensory input and just lie down in a dark, quiet place for a few hours to ease the pain.
The effects of a migraine can be felt for days. As a result, they can pose many limitations on a person’s daily routine, causing an inconvenience on one’s life and aspirations.
Nothing Can be Done About Migraines
Sometimes, it may feel as if nothing you do can get rid of your migraine. It can feel pretty hellish and helpless at times. While there is no cure for migraines at this time, there is still a lot you can do to deal with your migraine. One of the most important ones being: finding a good doctor who can work with you and create a treatment regimen that works for you.
Since every person’s migraine is different, it’s important to find a doctor who specializes in headaches and migraines and who listens to you and allows you to communicate what is important to you.