Did you know that June is Migraine Awareness Month?
Here are some statistics that I thought were interesting:
- “Nearly 1 in 4 U.S. households includes someone with migraine.
- Amazingly, over 10% of the population – including children – suffers from migraine. That’s more than diabetes and asthma combined!
- About 18% of American women and 6% of men suffer from migraine.
- Migraine is most common during the peak productive years, between the ages of 25 and 55.
- Migraine tends to run in families. If one parent suffers from migraine, there is a 40% chance a child will suffer. If both parents suffer, the chance rises to 90%.
- Migraine ranks in the top 20 of the world’s most disabling medical illnesses.
- Every 10 seconds, someone in the United States goes to the emergency room with a headache or migraine.
- While most sufferers experience attacks once or twice a month, 14 million people or about 4% have chronic daily headache, when attacks occur at least 15 days per month.
- More than 90% of sufferers are unable to work or function normally during their migraine.”
You can find more information here: http://www.migraineresearchfoundation.org/fact-sheet.html
Prepare to get some real life personal information about me. 🙂 I myself suffer from chronic migraines/headaches. The summer before my junior year in high school I started to get headaches. They didn’t start out too bad and I’m not really a complainer…okay I just didn’t want to complain to my parents who already had a ton to worry about. Eventually, I was having debilitating headaches everyday. I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t eat much. I started to become very anti-social (it is really hard to talk to someone when your head is throbbing I’ll have you know.) This went on for over 6 months before I finally told my mom. She knew right away that something was really the matter when I told her I wanted to go to the doctor. Anyways, at first the doctors just sad make a headache journal put down what food you eat and try taking 3 ibuprofen a day for two weeks. Surprise surprise, nothing helped. Then I went to a neurologist. He gave me a few options for daily preventative medication and then also prescribed me a Triptan (it essentially a really powerful pain killer that you take for a migraine.) In short, what I found out while sitting there was that there are not a lot of options for people who suffer from chronic migraines. The medications I started taking made me have a rebound migraine, it’s just like it sounds you get a worse migraine from trying to fix the one you have. I got really sick. I literally had a migraine for a week and a half with no relief. The neurologist tried IV medication and finally tried an at home medication that I had to take every four hours. I hated it. I was throwing up a ton, my head hurt like crazy, and I the meds were so powerful I only remember parts of that week.
After a year and a half suffering from chronic migraines I’ve made tons of improvement. Now I only get about 1 migraine a month. The sad part is that I’m still suffering from headaches, around 12-15 a month. My neurologist and I are trying some new stuff to see if that helps, but it is a daily struggle.
Here are some things that I learned along the way:
Sleep is the best treatment. My roommates laughed at me when I told them that I needed 8 hours of sleep, but it really is a thing. I always get a headache if I get less than 8 hours of sleep. Without fail. My goal this summer is to really make sure that I get plenty of sleep so I can attack my chronic pain head on. If you find that you start getting a lot of headaches/migraines, or you are like me and it is already a constant battle get your sleep. Don’t just get 8 hours, but get 8 hours the same time every night. I know, it’s a pain, but just know that you are helping yourself from being in a lot of pain.
KEEP A HEADAHCE JOURNAL! There are tons of apps that will make the process easier, but honestly you need to. It will help you not only see what could be making your headaches/migraines worse, but it will also show you what helps you to feel better so you can make informed decisions with your doctor.
Your headaches may not be food related…. I’ve had so many people tell me that I needed to go gluten free/dairy free/sugar free/etc. but let me just tell you, I’ve tried it all…okay not everything but a lot. I’ve tried yoga, vitamins, food diets, exercise, etc. Sometimes, it’s just a genetic thing. Doctors really don’t know all that much about the brain, so don’t be surprised if you can’t pinpoint the reason behind your pain.
Ignore the jerks. Throughout high school I got a lot of nasty comments whenever I wasn’t in school for a migraine. Some people just don’t understand that not all pain is visible. Headaches and migraines are both incredibly debilitating. Your brain is important for all of your functions and pain makes those functions x10 harder. Whenever I get a bad headache or migraine I have a really hard time seeing, so doing anything, let alone homework, is really hard. If you don’t suffer from headaches/migraines yourself, realize that the people who do go through a lot of pain daily without a lot of answers or relief.
Don’t give up. This one is the hardest. Sometimes you just don’t want to go through the battle, but know that it is your body and you can handle it. It isn’t easy, but you are up to the task. I know that you will feel like chopping your head off and it sucks that eventually you just learn to live with the pain, but just remember that it makes you that much stronger. Every once and a while, treat yourself to something nice and tell your head to go suck it. (Hehe.)