Women and Migraines: How Big is the Problem?


Women and Migraines: How Big is the Problem?
You're not alone if your mental pain is a handicap.

Bayle goes on to explain that, in her opinion, the worst thing about having to deal with migraines is the stigma attached the debilitating effects they cause and the fact that this particular ailment can be so difficult to treat.

“Doctors, even in this advanced age of medicine, still don't totally understand migraines, and treatment is still limited. We live in a society where personal responsibility is valued above all else. If I had a dollar for every time a doctor, friend, coworker, or family member asked me why I have so many headaches and why I can't just ‘get over’ them, implying (or sometimes outright stating) that this is my fault or a simply matter of will, I would be the richest woman alive. You learn to live with debilitating pain because you have to, and then because you are able to live with it, people question if it's really that bad—it is, and the weight of others' lack of understanding is almost as bad as a migraine,” she says.


Jennifer Engle, owner of a marketing and communications company, also feels the affects of these debilitating headaches.

She describes the onset of the headaches she experiences as well as the restrictions she has had to learn to live with as a result of the physical discomfort:

“Sometimes migraines wake me up in the middle of the night, generally with a throbbing pain that starts in the back of my head and moves to above one eye. The pain is excruciating. Any type of light is painful, and often I am nauseated (sometimes to the point of throwing up). I also frequently get chills. Basically, with all these symptoms, I am miserable and find it very difficult to concentrate on anything.”

Engle agrees that taking migraine medication can be helpful sometimes, but isn’t a guaranteed remedy by any means (nor is much else when it comes to migraines).

Related: Using Food as Medicine 

“I do take medication (carry it with me all the time) at the onset, when possible. Usually, it takes 45 minutes to an hour to have any effect. Often, the symptoms get worse before they get better – depending on when in the headache cycle I take them. [The pills] do ease the pain, making it somewhat bearable but I am frequently very tired for a day or so after. If you don't have medication, migraines can last a day or more. Generally, I try to sleep them off. It's a matter of getting to a bed in a dark room. I have to force myself to be calm (not an easy task with the pain) and try to relax enough to fall asleep. I've been known to go into a dark closet or put on sunglasses if I'm at work and have to get something done. It's very frustrating to have migraines as they never happen at convenient times!”

While medications that target migraine headaches are available, Dr. Sellman advises that migraine suffers speak to a physician, as migraines affect each sufferer differently. “It is reasonable to see a doctor to confirm this diagnosis and make sure the headache disorder is not due to some other cause.

Migraine headaches can be prevented with medication. Medication to prevent migraines works very well for the majority of patients. These medications need to be prescribed by a physician.

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission.
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