Health: Understanding and coping with migraines

Tips and treatments for dealing with migraine pain.

| June 2009

  • Migraine sufferer
    GET HELP: Don’t let migraines take over your life. Talk to a healthcare provider for treatment and tips to better manage the pain.
    Courtesy of Family Features

  • Migraine sufferer

Red-hot stabbing pains or like being jabbed with an ice pick - these are just a couple of the ways people describe the pain of migraines.

Nearly 30 million Americans suffer from migraines, with women being afflicted three times more than men.

Migraines are a recurrent headache lasting four to 72 hours. In addition to debilitating pain, migraines can bring a host of other symptoms. A survey by the National Headache Foundation (NHF) revealed that more than 50 percent of respondents said they frequently or always experience symptoms such as nausea, neck pain, or sensitivity to lights, sounds or smells when suffering from a migraine.

Migraine characteristics can include pain typically on one side of the head, pain with a pulsating or throbbing quality, moderate to intense pain that affects daily activities, nausea or vomiting, sensitivity to light or sound, and visual disturbances or aura.

About 20 percent of migraine sufferers experience aura, the warning associated with migraine, from 20 minutes to an hour before the actual onset of migraine.

Diagnosing migraines can be tricky. The Migraine Research Foundation says that since symptoms vary widely, migraine is often misdiagnosed – and is never diagnosed in about half of all sufferers. Your doctor needs to analyze your symptoms, conduct medical tests and eliminate other possible causes of the headache.

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