Dr. Parth Bansal

Dr.Parth Bansal

Do you know these 11 Myths about Migraine

Migraine is a common condition, affecting up to 148 million worldwide. Studies suggest that migraine prevalence might be increasing globally.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), migraine is around twice as common in women than men

Myths vs. Facts

Let’s burst these common myths about migraine that stops patients from receiving proper treatment:

Myth 1: A migraine is simply a bad headache.

Fact: Migraine is a medical term that refers to a neurological disease. An episode of such headache is referred to as a migraine attack. The exact cause of this disease is still not completely known, but studies point towards genetics and overly sensitive neurons in the brain.

The most common symptoms are:

  • throbbing, pulsating pain;
  • sensitivity to light;
  • sound sensitivity;
  • nausea;
  • pain on one side of the head;
  • vision difficulties;
  • aura.

Myth 2: There are no treatment options for those who suffer migraines.

Fact: This is a false statement; several medications are available now to help and control migraine significantly. There are lots of options for prescription medications that are very effective at reducing migraine frequency and others that can stop a migraine in its tracks.

If you suspect that you experience migraine headaches, it is worth seeing a Neurologist who can confirm the diagnosis and work with you to develop a treatment plan.”

Around 50% of people have some trigger factor preceding an attack of migraine. The most frequently reported triggers are:

  • Personal or professional stress.
  • Altered sleeping patterns.
  • Skipping meals or fasting.
  • Hormonal changes in women.
  • Loud noises.
  • Bright lights and glare from the sun.
  • Unusual smells.
  • Aged cheeses, salty foods, and processed foods.
  • Food additives.
  • Alcohol, particularly wine, as well as highly caffeinated drinks.
  • Physical exertion.
  • Changes in the weather.

Medications available to treat migraine are divided into two general types:

  • Pain–relieving medications – Once symptoms of a migraine attack are present, these medications are taken to reduce the attack’s severity.
  • Preventive medications – These types of medications are taken prophylactically – often on a daily basis. They help to reduce both the number of and severity of migraine attacks.

The exact treatment approach is determined by a variety of factors. But the point is that many forms of treatment are available.

Myth 3: Migraines don’t occur often, and when they do strike, they’re gone pretty quickly.

Fact: The average migraine lasts from four to 72 hours. But severe attacks can span days, weeks, and even months. If a migraine extends beyond 72 hours, seeking medical attention is suggested. And, if you experience migraines 15 or more days per month, the condition is grouped as chronic migraine. Sadly, many people do suffer from chronic migraines.

Myth 4: True migraines are preceded by an aura.

Fact: Only 25% to 30% of migraine attacks are accompanied by an aura. Auras come in many forms, including:

  • Flashing spots.
  • Wavy lines.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Ringing in the ears 
  • Unusual smells.
  • Tingling sensation throughout the body.

Myth 5: Migraines aren’t a serious medical condition, they’re just bothersome.

Fact: Although most of the migraine attacks are not life-threatening. But research indicates a link between migraine and stroke, heart diseases and even suicide.

Myth 6: The more headache medicine I take, the more control I will have over my migraine. 

Fact: Unfortunately, taking more medication to treat individual attacks likely won’t help a migraine: it might actually make it worse. Some people living with migraine complain of “rebound headaches,” but the medical term for that phenomenon is Medication Overuse Headache. Taking a lot of medication to treat an acute migraine attack could lead to more frequent and more severe migraine attacks in the future, which are often more difficult to treat.

Myth 7: “Men don’t get migraine”

Fact: Migraine affects people of all genders. While it’s about 2–3 times more common in women than in men, the condition affects somewhere around 9% of adult men (and more boys than girls).

In fact, men with migraine are less likely than women to have a formal diagnosis or to see a doctor for their headaches. 

Whatever your gender, if you think you may be experiencing migraine, we recommend talking to a Neurologist.

Myth 8: Caffeine causes migraine

Fact: This is a myth; caffeine does not cause migraine, but it can be a trigger for some people. Coffee and migraine have a complex relationship.

Excessive use of caffeine can trigger migraine. However, caffeine, in general, can help alleviate headaches, including migraine headache.

Myth 9: Migraines affects only one side of the brain

Fact: Migraines can be one-sided or they can involve the whole head, or even the back of the head or neck, and sometimes the face too. 

Myth 10: I cannot take any migraine medications if I am pregnant

Fact: Migraine medications, such as triptans, are relatively safe during pregnancy, particularly after the first trimester

Acetaminophen is safe as well, but some of the preventive anti-seizure medications should be avoided due to the risk of halting the pregnancy or producing a congenital malformation.

Before getting pregnant, it’s important for people to talk with their doctors about their migraine treatment plan, whether they take OTC, prescription medications, or both.

Not all medicines are safe during pregnancy, some are strictly off-limits, while other medicines can be added back after the critical first trimester. 

Non-invasive wearable devices are particularly appealing to pregnant women as they have high efficacy with virtually no lasting side effects.

Myth 11: There is no research work going on for migraine

Fact: That is totally false, researchers never gave up and never will, there are several ongoing, important research efforts to address the pathophysiology of migraine and new treatment options.

Recently, neuromodulation devices have entered the market. 

A new device called Nerivio now has clearance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for acute migraine treatment.

The device is smartphone-controlled and inconspicuously worn on the upper arm, delivering a 45-minute treatment.

The device modifies the pain signals in the brain and is a good alternative to medication.

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