June is Migraine and Headache Awareness Month. Migraine is a common condition affecting more than 37 million people in the United States and up to 148 million worldwide. Some data suggest that the prevalence of migraine will increase worldwide.
According to the World He alth Organization (WHO), migraines are about twice as common in women as in men. Often the first symptoms of a migraine are a moderate to severe headache, 85% of people with a migraine headache experience a throbbing pain. In about 60% of people, the pain is unilateral, and 80% of sufferers experience nausea, 30% and vomiting. In addition, almost everyone with migraine has increased sensitivity to light (90%) and sound (80%).
Here are some myths related to migraines:
Myth 1. Migraines are not fatal
“Most types of migraine are not serious, but they can be chronic and sometimes debilitating if not treated adequately,” explained Dr. Michael. It's worth noting that not all migraines are the same.
“There is a type of migraine called hemiplegic, which tends to be familial and is associated with neurological and aura symptoms, worsens and can lead to stroke,” says Dr. Michael.
However, he notes that hemiplegic migraine, which causes significant weakness or paralysis on one side of the body, is rare, affecting about 0.01% of the population. In most cases, the paralysis resolves within hours or days, rarely it may take 4 weeks. However, in some very rare cases, hemiplegic migraine can cause permanent paralysis.
Myth 2. It's just a headache
This is not true and it should be noted that not all types of migraines involve headaches. As Dr. McVick explains, “a migraine is actually a primary headache disorder. In fact, headache is only one symptom of migraine." According to Dr. Williams, "a migraine is clinically defined as a specific type of headache in which a person feels it more intensely and usually has accompanying symptoms in addition to the pain they feel in their head."
Myth 3. Caffeine causes migraines
It's a myth, caffeine doesn't cause migraines, but it can be a trigger for some people. Coffee and migraines have a complicated relationship. As Dr. Michael says, “Excessive caffeine use can trigger migraines. However, caffeine in general can help relieve headaches, including migraine headaches.”
According to Dr. McVick, "some people find drinking coffee at the start of an attack reduces its intensity and can help relieve pain, but regular caffeine use as a treatment is not recommended."
Myth 4. A headache pill will cure it
There is currently no cure for migraines, but medication can certainly help.
Myth 5. There are no drugs that can help migraines
Myth 6. You can't diagnose migraine, imaging
According to Dr. Michael, this is a “false statement. Migraine is a clinical diagnosis and does not require imaging for confirmation. Imaging is indicated only if symptoms are unclear or there are neurological or warning signs. Imaging is then warranted to rule out pathology. There is no specific test to diagnose migraine.”
To make an accurate diagnosis, the doctor must identify the pattern of recurring headaches along with associated symptoms lasting at least 3 months.