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9 Common Migraine Misconceptions & Myths

Migraines affect more than 12% of Americans— that’s about 38 million men, women and children. Despite how common they are, there are several misconceptions that remain all too popular. We want to take this opportunity to address some of these migraine myths today.

If you are reading this post, then you are likely directly affected or know someone who is affected by migraine attacks or severe headaches. They are extraordinarily common. We hope that you’ll be able to do some myth busting of your own after reading this.

Myth #1) Migraines Are Just Really Bad Headaches

The severe headache that most people think of is actually just one symptom of a migraine attack. The truth is that a migraine is a neurological disease that can produce a number of debilitating symptoms.

Woman feels a migraine headache starting at home

It is possible for a migraine attack to occur without producing a headache. These are known as acephalgic or “silent” migraines. These attacks can occur in four distinct phases, but they can cause an even broader range of symptoms.

A migraine diagnosis can’t be confirmed if the only symptom is a bad headache.

Myth #2) Migraines Aren’t Life Threatening

The migraine itself may not kill a person, but the complications that result from them can be life-threatening. Migraine clinical trials have uncovered a link between this neurological disease and several cardiovascular conditions.

All other things equal, the presence of migraine attacks was linked to an additional 1,500 deaths among American women as a result of heart disease.

Studies have also shown that suicide attempts are three times more likely amongst those who suffer from regular migraine headaches. This is a statistic that can’t be ignored.

Myth #3) Any Doctor Should Know How to Treat a Migraine

This is an all too common misconception. Why? Many physicians haven’t received the proper education to treat severe migraine attacks. One should also note that neurologists are not all specialists in migraine management.

A report submitted by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2011 stated, “Lack of knowledge among health-care providers is the principal clinical barrier to effective headache (including Migraine) management.”

Myth #4) Migraines Only Affect Women

Surprisingly, this is a misconception that still gets spread around. The truth is that men do suffer from migraine attacks, although they are more common in women.

Myth #5) It’s Not a Migraine Without Auras

These auras refer to a set of symptoms that may occur prior to the development of an intense headache during an attack. They’re often visual, but can also manifest as a sensory, motor or verbal disturbance.

Woman suffering a migraine with aura symptoms

Clinical studies show that less than 30% of migraineurs experience these auras. On top of that, those that do get them don’t experience them with every attack.

Myth #6) Children Don’t Get Migraines

This is sadly untrue. Studies have shown that children can experience migraine headaches and other symptoms at a very young age. A diagnosis at that age is based on the child’s behavior and a review of their family medical history.

Myth #7) The “Migraine Personality”

There was once a time when it was widely believed that a specific set of personality traits meant a person was more susceptible to migraine attacks. The migraine personality included traits like:

  • Conscientiousness
  • Perfectionism
  • Meticulousness
  • Resentment
  • Inflexibility

Research has proven the fallibility of this theory. There isn’t a common personality profile amongst migraine sufferers.

Myth #8) A Migraine Sufferer Has Few Options

There isn’t a cure for this neurological disease, but we are working on improving available treatments all the time. This is the reason why we conduct migraine clinical trials at our clinic here in Birmingham.

Migraineur discusses his treatment options with his physician

By working with a migraine specialist, you can identify your primary triggers and develop an effective management plan. You don’t have to live with the debilitating symptoms for your entire life.

We also ask that you continue to spread awareness for migraine sufferers. With more available funding, researchers will be able to develop better treatments that can address the now intractable (don’t respond to medications) migraine attacks.

Myth #9) All Migraines Are Alike

There are actually several different types of migraines. From a top down level, migraines can be classified as:

  • With aura
  • Without aura

There are two subtypes of migraine with aura:

  • Sporadic and familial hemiplegic
  • Basilar-type

Additionally, there are also:

  • Chronic migraines
  • Retinal migraines
  • Abdominal migraines

Talk to a migraineur and they’ll tell you how their own symptoms can vary significantly from time to time. There’s a lot of variety when it comes to a migraine attack.

Conclusion

If you learned something new from this list, please be sure to tell others and help spread awareness about this neurological disease.

Have you come across a migraine-related myth that we missed? Let us know in the comments section below.

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