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  • Writer's pictureIt’s Complicated

It's not just a headache

It is a common misconception that migraines are just headaches. This is far from the truth. Migraines can be disabling and can present differently for everyone. They are accompanied by other symptoms and diagnosis can take time.


Let's start with, what are migraines?


Mayo clinic defines migraines as 'a headache that causes severe throbbing pain or pulsating sensation, usually on one side of the head. It is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine attacks can last for hours to days and the pain can be so bad, it can interfere with daily activities'.


An aura may occur before a migraine starts. Some count the start of their migraine when the aura starts whilst others count it from when the pain starts. Auras can be anything such as visual disturbances like dots, fuzziness, patterns etc or can be temporary blindness, numbness, or pins and needles in parts of the body, weakness or feeling lightheaded. Not everyone has auras.


For me, I've never had an aura. I've had chronic migraines for a few years now but my first major event was in 2020 when I had a migraine that lasted for 48 hours. It was debilitating, as I couldn't be around light and felt the need to sleep. I eventually spoke to my gp and was prescribed a typical migraine medication known as Sumatriptan. However, it caused some not so great side effects so I had to discontinue it. I was not prescribed anything else as the flare had ended.


I've been managing the chronic migraines fairly well with painkillers and limiting my exposure to light. My last major flare lasted much longer and I had different symptoms. In January 2023 I had a migraine lasted for over 2 weeks. It was accompanied with immense pressure at the back of my head and neck and quite literally felt like my head was going to explode!


For all these years I wasn't actually diagnosed with migraines. After the first major flare in 2020 I did try and get some help, but was told that it's just a headache because migraines don't present like that; which is why I wasn't offered any other treatments when the Sumatriptan failed.


The flare from January was extreme and I didn't seek help until the 2 week mark because none of my usual methods helped. My GP was concerned so they sent me to A&E who did not help at all and dismissed me. I found a private neurologist and was officially diagnosed with Migraines. I explained all the comments I received from other doctors and went over my history and the doctor explained they are definitely migraines, but because of my issues with medications, I didn't want to try other prescription medications so I was offered supplements.


It is so important to understand a headache doesn't disable you like a migraine does, especially when it flares. Migraine awareness is needed because medical professionals still don't understand the difference and it takes years for people to receive help. Definitely seek other opinions and push for tests and different medication options.



From: mehardeep kaur singh <meharks16@hotmail.com>

Sent: Saturday, September 30, 2023 8:04:54 pm

To: Mehak <singhmehakjot6@gmail.com>

Subject: Migeaines


It is a common misconception that migraines are just headaches. This is far from the truth. Migraines can be disabling and can present differently for everyone. They are accompanied by other symptoms and diagnosis can take time.


Let's start with, what are migraines?


Mayo clinic defines migraines as 'a headache that causes severe throbbing pain or pulsating sensation, usually on one side of the head. It is often accompanied by nausea, vomiting and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine attacks can last for hours to days and the pain can be so bad it can interfere with daily activities'.


An aura may occur before a migraine starts. Some count the start of their migraine when the aura starts whilst others count it from when the pain starts. Auras can be anything such as visual disturbances like dots, fuzziness, patterns etc or can be temporary blindness, numbness or pins and needles in parts of the body, weakness or feeling lightheaded. Not everyone has auras.


For me, I've never had an aura. I've had chronic migraines for a few years now but my first major event was in 2020 when I had a migraine last for 48 hours. It was debilitating as I couldn't be around light and felt the need to sleep. I eventually spoke to my gp and was prescribed a typical migraine medication known as Sumatriptan. However, it caused some not so great side effects so I had to discontinue it. I was not prescribed anything else as the flare had ended.


I've been managing the chronic migraines fairly well with painkillers and limiting my exposure to light. My last major flare lasted much longer and I had different symptoms. In January 2023 I had a migraine lasted for over 2 weeks. It was accompanied with immense pressure at the back of my head and neck and quite literally felt like my head was going to explode!


For all these years I wasn't actually diagnosed with migraines. After the first major flare in 2020, I did try and get some help but was advised its just a headache because migraines don't present like that. Which is why I wasn't offered any other treatments when the triptan failed.


The flare from January was extreme and I didn't seek help till the 2 week mark because none of my usual methods helped. My GP was concerned so they sent me to A&E who did not help at all and dismissed me. I found a private neurologist and was officially diagnosed with Migraines. I explained all the comments I received from other doctors and went over my history and the doctor explained they are definitely migraines but because of my issues with medications I didn't want to try other prescription medications so I was offered supplements.


It is so important to understand a headache doesn't disable you like a migraine does especially when it flares. Migraine awareness is needed because medical professionals still don't understand the difference and it takes years for people to receive help. Definitely seek other opinions and push for tests and different medication options.


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