Did you know that migraines affect 28 million women in the US, and women are three times more likely to experience migraines than men? I didn’t because I just googled it, but chances are most of you have at least heard of migraines, had a family member experience them, or even had them yourself. Even so, there’s still a lot of mystery around migraines, even for those who get them often. So I’m going to go through my experience to explain a bit of what migraines are and how I’ve dealt with mine.
Migraines are defined as moderate/severe pain on one side of the head, accompanied by nausea, and sensitivity to light and sound. For some, the migraine can also have or start with an “aura”, such as visual flashes of light or wavy, zigzag vision. Migraines can last for hours or even for days, and generally start gradually building the day before. Migraines vary exactly how they effect person to person, and there is no known cause for migraines other than certain things that can increase their likelihood. They tend to remain a mystery in this aspect, but nevertheless can be very debilitating. EDIT: My neurolgist informed me that migraines aren't always one sided. I've experienced one that was all around my head before, so basically a headache with nausea and sensitivity to light/sound is a more accurate definition.
I got my first migraine January 2016, when I was 15 1/2. I had just started taking a doctor prescribed contraceptive pill a couple months prior to manage my horrendous periods, which I now know can be a trigger for migraines (oops). Not to mention I was stressed, band class was loud, and when I got home I didn’t get much done before the tell tale symptoms of a migraine showed up at my door. My mom had gotten migraines previously (funny enough when she was pregnant with me), and knew exactly what I had. I basically stayed in the darkness of my bedroom for the rest of the evening.
Most times, I’m pretty lucky with my migraines. The throbbing pain usually doesn’t keep me reeling once I’m in the dark, and I can technically function. But the minute I turn on the light or look at my phone or computer, the pain/nausea combo is back. So, basically I sit in a dark room, bored out of my mind, because I can’t do anything without being pain and feeling sick. Luckily, mine only last hours and I feel better after sleeping. I’ve had worse ones, but generally mine are on the milder side. Still, they throw a total wrench in my plans and really get in the way of school and basically anything I aimed to do.
Thing with migraines is they are hard to treat. If you can spot the signs of a migraine starting the day before, you can take preventative medication. If you’re like me and have no idea what signs those are, you take treatment meds the minute you feel a migraine is starting (for me its dull pain starting to congregate on one side, slight nausea/off feeling looking at bright things, sensitivity to sound). If you get it fast enough, it can go away and you dodged a bullet. But sometimes migraines don’t have the same tell tale signs and it can be confusing to decipher a migraine from a normal headache that’ll pass. While it’s better to be safe than sorry, when you have prescription meds you have to take sparingly, it can be a hard dice game to catch the migraine early enough.
So, what do you do when you can’t avoid a migraine? Depending on your symptoms, the best is to go into the darkest room possible, no lights or anything (or block out the lights from your eyes with a loose blind fold or something). Lay down however is most comfortable, generally my migraines feel better laying down on my side (the one that isn’t throbbing). Make sure you have plenty of water nearby to drink and if you can, get a cold pack or ice pack to put over your head. It can even be a frozen bag of vegetables with a cloth over it (that’s what I use). And just relax. Pushing through the migraine can easily intensify it and leave you worse off than resting. And if your migraines are severe and/or chronic, it might be a good idea to your doctor or a neurologist to get you the meds you need to manage them better.
Have any of you guys experienced migraines, or know someone who does? Feel free to talk about it in the comments below and share any advice you have at tackling migraines, because man these headaches are just so weird we need all the tips we can get.