30th April 2021

7 Common Myths About Chronic Migraines Debunked

Chronic migraines can be a problematic and progressive condition that devastates families, careers and the quality of life for those with frequent or severe attacks. While doctors and researchers continue to discover and share more information about migraine, there are still many widely-held myths about this condition. To help people manage migraine as effectively as possible, these myths must be dispelled.

1. Your Are to Blame For Your Migraines Attacks

While stress and anxiety are common migraine triggers under your control, it’s nearly impossible to manage all the factors that can contribute to migraine attacks. Numerous potential triggers can ‘set off' a migraine attack. Unfortunately, these are different for everyone. And even in the same person, triggers can vary.

The current school of thought is that migraines are brought about by chemical changes originating from the brainstem, which start a series of reactions that cascade into a migraine attack. This shows that essentially a migraine is a biologically-based disorder similar to other conditions like hypertension or asthma. Therefore migraines are in no way an individual’s fault.

2. A Migraines is Just a Bad Headache

Migraine is accompanied by a specific set of symptoms that qualify it as migraine and are not just a case of a nasty headache. It is important to note that headaches are only one symptom of migraine. Along with moderate to severe headaches, migraines also cause nausea, sensitivity to light, difficulty in concentration, vertigo, severe dizziness, vomiting and even loss of consciousness. On the other hand, for some people with migraine, a headache might be absent or is just a minor symptom.

3. You Must Have an Aura for it to be a Migraine

This couldn’t be further from the truth! Migraine can occur with or without Aura (a series of sensory disturbances that happen shortly before a migraine attack). Auras show up in about 1 in 3 people with migraine. And even if you get migraine with aura, you're not likely to get them every time. That being said, whether or not a person experiences the aura phase of migraine makes an immense difference when it comes to navigating treatment options. So ensure you’re keeping track of whether or not you experience any symptoms of aura in your migraine diary.

4. Migraine is Just Something You Have to Live With

While it’s true that there is not a universal cure to fix your migraine condition, there are effective treatments, therapies, behavioural and lifestyle changes that can lead to significant reductions in migraine frequency and severity. In our recent post, we covered some common migraine triggers. Some of the solutions we recommended include:

  • Create a nighttime routine and consistent sleep schedule.
  • Adopt relaxation techniques that give your mind and body a rest
  • Avoid any strong odours you suspect trigger your migraines.
  • Your doctor can prescribe different medications to relieve the symptoms.
  • Get Botox and possibly cut your migraine days by more than 50% (our recommended treatment here at Dr Aesthetica).

It’s crucial you don’t give in to this dangerous myth. You are not helpless! With a firm grasp of the facts about migraine, you can receive adequate treatment and effective management strategies. A lot of research is being done on migraines, and there’s hope for even more effective treatments in the future.

You might enjoy reading:4 Most Common Migraine Triggers and How To Deal With Them.

5. More Medication is Better

Unfortunately, taking more medication to treat individual attacks likely won’t help a migraine: it might actually make it worse. The truth is some medicines that are used to treat migraines can actually cause them. Some people living with migraine complain of “rebound headaches,” but the medical term for that phenomenon is Medication Overuse Headache. 

Doctors are still trying to discover why the body turns on the medication. The more medication you take to treat acute migraine attacks, the more you get frequent and more severe migraine attacks. Eventually, in such cases, people may develop chronic migraines. The best way to treat chronic migraines caused by medication-overuse headaches is to stop taking the specific medicine. That’s why you need to be honest with your doctor about your medicine use. 

6. Only Adults Get Migraines

Another common myth is that kids don't experience migraines. But did you know that migraines tend to run in families? Researchers have proven that there is a genetic link in migraine attacks. More than half of migraine sufferers have a close relative with the condition. Sadly, many parents wrongly assume since their migraines didn’t start until their 20s or 30s, the same is the case for their kids. Yet children and teenagers can also get migraines as well with most of them experiencing many of the same symptoms as adults. So if your child is complaining of a headache, don’t brush it off. About 10% of school-age children suffer from migraines, with most ceasing at the onset of puberty. However, if migraine symptoms begin during adolescence, the teenager is more likely to continue experiencing the condition into adulthood.

7. People use Migraines as an excuse to Get Off Work, School, or Other Obligations

A migraine is not something you ‘work through’. The truth is that people with chronic migraines battle against incredible odds to hold down jobs and maintain their relationships. Migraine can have a devastating impact on everyday living for an individual. Not only do they experience extreme pain and disability during attacks, but they have to deal with all the social stigma due to society’s misunderstanding of the disorder. 

Many people are quick to unfairly judge migraine sufferers as people who “can’t handle stress”. Many people need to lie down in a dark, quiet room for hours to limit sensory distress or simply because the pain and other symptoms are too much to handle. On top of that, migraine is a very serious condition with a history of inducing stroke, coma, aneurysms, permanent vision loss and even death.

There’s an urgent need to promote the destigmatisation of migraines and help the public better understand the condition. This is the best way to do away with all these myths about chronic migraines.

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