Myth Buster

Migraine is a complex condition surrounded by many myths. Let’s simplify things by busting some of these.

Here are some myths and facts about migraine that will help you understand this condition better.

A Migraine is just a bad headache

Truth: Migraine is a neurological disease that is characterised by a severe throbbing pain in one side of the head along with other symptoms such as nausea or vomiting. A headache is only one of the many symptoms of migraine. The other symptoms that may be experienced in migraine are nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to sensory phenomena like bright lights, strong odours and loud sounds, blurred vision and inability to cope up with daily activity. A migraine can also occur without headache which is called as a silent or “acephalgic migraine”

No one has a migraine attack daily and migraines do not last long

Truth: A typical migraine attack may last anywhere between 4-72 hours, but migraines have been known to last longer in some sufferers. If a migraine attack lasts for 3 months or more then it is called Chronic Migraine. Episodic Migraine is the type of Migraine that occurs for less than 15 days a month. Although, the pain intensity and quality may be similar, the burden of Chronic Migraine is higher compared to Episodic Migraine.

Migraine affects women majorly. Men rarely suffer from migraine

Truth: This is partly true as women are more prone to migraine attacks than men. However, 18% of women and 6 to 8% of men suffer from migraine.

Migraines aren’t life-threatening, so it is nothing to worry about

Truth: Even if a migraine attack per se may not be life threatening, the complications associated with it may be. Research has established strong links between migraines with cardiovascular disease and stroke. Evidence has also shown a definite link between depressions, suicide and migraine.

Children do not get migraine; it is only an adult disorder

Truth: Migraine can start in childhood however it remains undiagnosed because children are unable to communicate their symptoms exactly. Only a doctor can correctly diagnose the child’s migraine with proper information about family history and child’s behaviour analysis.

All migraineurs have the migraine aura

Truth: The symptoms of migraine vary from individual to individual. Besides, two attacks experienced by the same individual need not be the same. An aura is a sensory, motor, visual phenomenon experienced sometimes by some people during migraine. It can be perceived as bright confusing lights, distressing smells or confusing sounds.
Less than 20% sufferers experience aura with migraine. Moreover, people suffering from aura have also had migraine attacks at some point without aura.

All migraine headaches are the same, there is no difference in a migraine attack

Truth: There are several different types of Migraine mainly being Migraine with aura and Migraine without aura. The symptoms can vary from person to person and the symptoms experienced in two attacks by the same individual need not be the same.

Nothing can be done about migraine. One has to learn to live with it

Truth: This is totally untrue. You do not have to ‘live with migraine’. Migraine can be managed well with a good understanding of your condition and triggers along with proper treatment prescribed by a doctor. Armed with knowledge of your individual symptoms and your case history, your doctor can prescribe a treatment regimen combining both prophylactic treatment and pain management prescription that can help you manage migraine well. Additionally, avoiding the known triggers will help prevent a migraine attack. So be sure to visit your doctor to manage your migraine better.

Some purposely fake a migraine attack to avoid doing daily work

Truth: A Migraine attack can be triggered anytime and anywhere. Although there may be few people who can subconsciously bring on a migraine attack, majority of people have no control on the commencement of their migraine attack.

People who eat a lot of chocolate always suffer from migraine

Truth: Not all chocolate lovers suffer from migraine. Although food is one of the major triggers of migraine, only some migraineurs can be negatively affected by chocolate. Some of the other food items that can trigger a migraine episode are red wine, aged cheese, and dishes containing MSG (Monosodium Glutamate).

Fluctuating hormones is the main reason why women suffer from migraines more than men

Truth: Well, fluctuating hormones are one of the causes of migraine in women, some women suffer from migraines at puberty and just before menstruation (menstrual migraine) however, not all women with fluctuating hormones suffer from migraine.

Very few doctors are trained to specialise in migraine treatment

Truth: Migraine is a very common neurological disorder. Although there are no migraine specialists, the cases of migraine headache should be first reported to the general physician. Once he evaluates and analyses the case, he will either prescribe a treatment regimen most suited to your case history or refer you to a neurologist.

  • Did you find the information useful ?
  • Yes   No

References

  • Headache Classification Committee of the International Headache Society: J Olesen, M-G Bousser, H-C Diener, D Dodick, M First, PJ Goadsby, H Göbel, MJA Lainez, JW Lance, RB Lipton, G Nappi, F Sakai, J Schoenen, SD Silberstein & TJ Steiner. Available at: http://cep.sagepub.com/content/26/6/742.abstract. Brief Report: New appendix criteria open for a broader concept of chronic migraine. Cephalalgia 2006;26,742–746.
  • Natoli, JL; Manack, A; Dean, B; Butler, Q; Turkel, CC; Stovner, L.; and Lipton, R.B. Available at: http://cep.sagepub.com/content/30/5/599. Global prevalence of chronic migraine: A systematic Review. Cephalalgia 2010;30:599. DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2982.2009.01941.x.
  • Park J.E.1; Kempner J.2; Young W.B. “The Stigma of Migraine.” Poster presentation. 52ndannual meeting of the American Headache Society. Los Angeles. June, 2010.
  • World Health Organization, Lifting the Burden. Available at: http://www.who.int/mental_health/management/atlas_headache_disorders/en/. Atlas of Headache Disorders and Resources in the World 2011. Geneva. World Health Organization. May, 2011.
  • Arnaud Fumal and Jean Schoenen. Current migraine management – patient acceptability and future approaches. Neuropsychiatry Dis Treat. 2008 Dec; 4(6):1043–1057.
  • Lake, Alvin E., III, PhD; Rains, Jeanetta C.; Penizen, Donald B., PhD; Lipchik, Gay L., PhD. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1526-4610.1995.hed3507382.x/abstract. Headache and Psychiatric Comorbidity: Historical Context, Clinical Implications, and Research Relevance. Headache 2005;45:483-506.
  • Meletiche DM, Lofland JH, Young WB. Quality-of-life differences between patients with episodic and transformed migraine. Headache. 2001;41(6):573-578.
  • Simona Sacco, Silvia Ricci, Diana Degan, and Antonio Carolei. Migraine in women: the role of hormones and their impact on vascular diseases. J Headache Pain. 2012 Apr; 13(3): 177–189.
  • Masahiro Hashizume, Ui Yamada, Asako Sato, Karin Hayashi, Yuichi Amano, Mariko Makino, Kazuhiro Yoshiuchi and Koji Tsuboi. Stress and psychological factors before a migraine attack: A time-based analysis. BioPsychoSocial Medicine 2008, 2:14
  • Gibb CM, Davies PT, Glover V, Steiner TJ, Clifford Rose F, Sandler M. Chocolate is a migraine-provoking agent. Cephalalgia. 1991 May;11(2):93-5.

Stewart WF, Lipton RB, Liberman J. Variation in migraine prevalence by race. Neurology. 1996 Jul;47(1):52-9.

Migraine Help, call   1800 266 0190