I get headaches, so do I need to read a book about migraine?
Having an occasional headache is normal and is unlikely to be a sign that anything is wrong. However, recurrent headaches are not normal and are most commonly caused by migraine. Migraine may not be life-threatening, but it is a chronic (long-term) illness that causes significant suffering and disability for millions of people. This article will help you judge whether your headaches are caused by migraine, and will show you how migraine headaches can be managed.
What exactly is migraine?
Migraine is a medical condition that causes intermittent attacks of headache and is associated with nausea and/or vomiting and sensitivity to light, sound, or smells. Like asthma and epilepsy, migraine is considered a chronic medical disorder. Migraine does not always receive as much attention and respect as other medical conditions, because headaches are such a common symptom. But it is important to understand that migraine is a real illness because this will help you accept that your condition deserves the same aggressive treatment as any other chronic disorder.
How can something so common be so disabling?
Migraine is much more than a common headache. Migraine is a real, and very treatable, condition that seriously affects millions of individuals worldwide. For years migraine was considered by many to be simply a reaction to stress. Now we have a better understanding of what migraine is, who suffers from migraine, and how to prevent and treat migraine attacks.
How do I know if I have migraine or a “regular” headache?
You can tell you have more than a “regular” or tension (stress-related) headache by how disabling the headache is and the symptoms that are experienced with it. In migraine, the headache can interfere with normal activities and there are typical episodes of symptoms that last for a period, then disappear. These symptoms include nausea and/or vomiting and sensitivity to bright light or loud noises. A regular or tension headache is less disabling, although it can still be severe, and is not accompanied by other symptoms. Headaches caused by stress are also more common in those who have migraine.
I have bad headaches, but I can live with them. Why should I get treatment?
If your headaches are caused by migraine they are very treatable, and you are missing out on life by putting up with unnecessary pain. Yes, you can often try to ignore the headache or take medications to dull the pain, but what you may not realize is how much your quality of life is affected. More importantly, as you push through the pain, and simply go on living with the headaches, the condition may be getting worse. Eventually, the headaches can affect your whole life, including your job, your social activities, and your relationships.
If I have migraine, why can I not simply take a pill for the headaches?
Migraine is a chronic (long-term) illness and cannot be successfully managed unless you have a good understanding of the condition, how it can be treated, and how you may need to change your lifestyle. Managing a chronic illness is never as simple as taking a medication and getting on with life as usual. The idea of having to live with a chronic illness may not be easy, but it is better than living with headaches.