Welcome to the Migraine blog. The Migraine blog keeps you up to date with the latest news and information pertaining to migraines and migraine research. Migraines are a physical, neurobiological action that occurs in and around the brain. It is not something you're just going to "get over". In fact, migraines are becoming widely and increasingly recognized as a neurological disorder and not just a "bad day". If the pain or symptoms that happen before or during your headache keep you from your normal daily activities and responsibilities, you could be suffering from migraines. Feel free to discuss and share thoughts and opinions about the latest news in the world of migraines, cluster headaches and other migraine related topics. Manage your headaches and migraine attacks and gain more control over your life.
The Huffington Post released an updated list of celebrity migraine sufferers, some of whom are active in raising migraine awareness. Still, the silence is deafening. What are some ways that famous migraineurs can help to raise much-needed funds for migraine research?
The star of “Desperate Housewives” has been one of Hollywood’s most outspoken migraine awareness promoters. In a People magazine article, she talked about having migraine headaches since the age of 14, and described them as stroke-like in nature.
Since then, she’s learned how to prevent migraines by avoiding food triggers like wine and chocolate. Also, she’s careful not to skip meals or sleep.
Her favorite exercises for reducing stress? Yoga and hiking, as she revealed to Help for Headaches.
“…I’ve found that if you don’t eat that chocolate bar or have that red wine, you can really reduce them,” she explained to Health magazine.
On coping with chronic migraines, she admits, “If I stress about migraines, it makes it more likely that I get one… I do what I need to do to take care of myself.”
The former “Friends” star is no stranger to migraines- not only has she dealt with excruciating migraines since childhood, but her father, Dr. Lee Kudrow, a cluster headache sufferer, is a renowned chronic headache specialist.
Migraine sufferers have a real podium with Cindy McCain, wife of ex-presidential candidate John McCain.
Cindy McCain struggles with migraine attack symptoms like debilitating headaches, vomiting, nausea, and photophobia. For years, she felt like an outcast, a hypochondriac. It wasn’t until she turned 40 that she finally received a diagnosis for migraines, a neurological disorder, she explained to Neurology.
Today, Ms. McCain is trying to raise funds for more research in migraine disorder, confirming to the word that migraines aren’t just a headache- they’re a legitimate disability.
In addition to identifying migraine headache triggers, Cindy McCain also uses alternative migraine treatments, such as acupuncture, biofeedback, and relaxation techniques.
Michele Bachmann may not be winning everyone’s presidential vote, but she’s a great role model for the millions of female migraine sufferers around the world, disproving many misconceptions that migraine patients are crazy, weak, or lazy.
In a statement released last year, she affirms, “Let me be abundantly clear – my ability to function effectively has never been impeded by migraines and will not affect my ability to serve as commander in chief,”
Janet Jackson suffers from vestibular migraines, a type of migraine with aura. Symptoms include vertigo, visual disturbances, and piercing migraine headaches.
In 2008, Janet Jackson required 3 weeks recuperation from a migraine attack that occurred while touring.
So far, there have been no supportive statements urging migraine research or awareness from the Janet Jackson camp.
Kristin Chenoweth works hard to achieve that sunny demeanor. The Broadway star of “Wicked” and television star of “Glee,”“The West Wing,” and “GCB” has had her share of migraine attacks, one in particular that occurred on 2009’s Emmy night, in which she received an award.
Her preferred migraine treatment of choice, according to a Prevention magazine article, is Botox. She says that her migraines have reduced from weekly to sporadically, although she admits her initial fear that freezing her facial muscles would jeopardize her acting career.
“I’m worried this might be the early stages of a migraine. I get this light disruption thing.” Those were the words of Russell Brand a few weeks ago, echoing the concerns of millions of other migraineheadache sufferers around the world. Only instead of retreating to a quiet shade-drawn bedroom to stave off the coming migraine attack, he continued his 90-minute comedy act under a bright Hollywood spotlight, migraine, nausea, and all.
Migraines are equal-opportunity destroyers
Disclaimer: Russel Brand was not contacted regarding this blog post. This is a review of news headlines, as referenced below.
When “Get him to the Greek” star Russell Brand had an on-stage migraine attack recently, his audience got a taste of what it’s like to be struck suddenly with crippling migraines.
First came the light sensitivity; he apologized to his audience for the delay as he halted his routine for a moment, explaining that the bright lights of the stage were probably triggering his migraines.
Next, he revealed that he had terrible pain, and needed painkillers. “I feel nauseous now,” he said. “I feel sick. Sorry about this.”
A stagehand brought him some migraine painkillers, and Russell continued his show, still apologetic.
“I think I’m such a professional showman this is beyond ridiculous stopping to take medication.”
For most migraineurs, getting on-the-spot medical attention for a migraines is like squeezing sugar from a lemon; it’s a long, nasty process with fruitless results.
Why the apologies?
We’ve all been there, yet it’s still hard to watch. When people suffer from chronic pain, they shouldn’t have to apologize for it. Yet that’s exactly what Russell Brand did for his audience when he felt the first symptoms of a migraine attack striking while he was performing onstage, fresh after signing divorce papers for his estranged ex-wife, Katy Perry.
Such is the dilemma for all people who get frequent migraines, celebrities included; once you feel the telltale signs of an approaching migraine, your only thought is to escape by whatever means possible. Locate your nearest exit, retreat, and apologize profusely along the way. (Except when you can’t.)
By the way…
Coincidentally, rapper Diddy was recently hospitalized for a migraine attack that occurred after a post-Grammy party at the Playboy Mansion.
Imagine anybody else calling 911 and explaining that he was hung over from a giant Hollywood bash, and was suffering from a killer migraine, and could somebody please take him to the hospital; or strolling into ER, wanting attention for a migraine headache that was triggered by too much partying.
For most migraineurs, getting on-the-spot medical attention for a migraine is like squeezing sugar from a lemon; it’s a long, nasty process with fruitless results.
Migraines are disabling
Fortunately, Russell Brand only had to endure 90 minutes of work time before being allowed to go home and wait out the migraine storm. And most likely, his job prospects are still good. Not to begrudge him his well-deserved fame, but for millions of blue-collar migraine patients, that is not the reality.
Most migraine patients have only three options regarding migraines and work:
suffer the migraine attack in silence until 5:00,
miss work, or
miss work while trying for months or years to qualify for disability insurance, which is always a gamble.
Please share your thoughts…
Do you think media attention on migraines will bring us closer to getting a cure?
Have you been denied disability, even though your migraines keep you from working?
What migraine treatments do you currently use, and how satisfied are you with their results?
As always, we welcome your comments, suggestions, and questions!
Spread the love…
Please share this article with your friends, family, or anybody you care about!
Migraines are a debilitating neurological illness that inflicts millions of sufferers with migraine headaches, nausea, vomiting, hypersensitivity to sounds, scents, and lights, and stroke-like symptoms. Migraines are linked with epilepsy and increased risk for stroke and heart disease. Why then are so few governmental funds set aside for migraine research, spreading migrainedisorder awareness, and providing support for migraine patients? Here are some ways you can influence migraine funding without spending a dime…
1- Sign the petition!
Go to the AHDA (Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy) website to urge Congressional hearings on the impact of migraine and headache disorders. There are millions of migraine sufferers in the world, but at the time of this blog, a mere 8,231 have signed the petition asking politicians to recognize migraines and other chronic headaches as a debilitating illness that requires more government-funded research.
Migraine attacks plague our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, in addition to the countless US citizens just trying to earn a living and get through a day without debilitating head pain, nausea, and vomiting.
Migraines are a recognized source of disability, yet very few grants are allocated towards finding a cure for chronic headaches.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that migraine headaches account in more “lost years of healthy life” in the USA each year than epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, ovarian cancer, and tuberculosis.
To date, the US Congress has never hosted a public hearing on chronic headache disorders like migraines and cluster headaches.
Explore Facebook (Do a search on migraines) and you’ll find endless Facebook migraine pages devoted to helping out people like you who want to connect with other migraineurs. Migraines are comorbid with severe depression, so this is a good way to discuss migraine symptoms without feeling as if you’re “complaining.”
Here are some excellent Facebook pages for migraine sufferers:
The Facebook groups mentioned also have a strong presence on the web for migraine advocacy, migraine forums, and personal blogs about managing migraines. They are excellent resources for finding local headache specialists, solving social dilemmas like migraine stigma, and finding out the latest news related to migraines.
You’re going to run into many people throughout your day who have never heard of migraines with aura, think that migraines are caused by stress, and don’t realize that headaches are just one of many horrible symptoms of migraine illness. They’re bound to make some pretty insensitive comments. It only takes a few seconds and a well-rehearsed line to (politely) put them in their place.
Here are some good comebacks that won’t offend:
“I wish I could just take a few Excedrin for migraines, but unfortunately, my body doesn’t respond to them.”
“Your mother-in-law is very lucky to have found a cure for her migraines. If only one cure worked for everybody…”
“I pray constantly for relief from migraines.”
“Sadly, migraines aren’t just in my head- they’re also in my nervous system.”
“I would work overtime every day for the rest of my life if it meant I never had to suffer another migraine again.”
“I wish it were only a headache- that would be heavenly!”
“I’m not antisocial. It’s just that everything outside my bedroom triggers migraines.”
“I’m on disability because without it, I would starve.”
Millions of people around the world suffer from excruciating chronic headaches; migraines, tension headaches, and cluster headaches cause stabbing head pain, nausea, vomiting, stroke-like symptoms, and extreme hypersensitivity to lights, sounds, and scents. Why then are so many people ignorant to the agony felt by fellow coworkers, friends, teachers, and parents who suffer this devastating illness?
Here are some interesting topics covered in this publication that reflects data collected from Africa, the Americas, the Eastern Mediterranean, Europe, South-East Asia regions, and the Western Pacific.
How many people in the world suffer from chronic headaches?
According to the Census Bureau, there are 6.7 billion people in the world today. Based on data collected from countries that participated with the WHO research, approximately 10% of all adults suffer from migraines, adding up to 670 million migraine patients around the world- and that figure does not include adolescents.
“Worldwide, migraine on its own is the cause of 1.3 % of all years of life lost to disability”
What percentage of headache sufferers receives a diagnosis?
About 40% of people who suffer from severe headache disorders ever seek medical diagnosis and treatment.
Among professional consultations for headache treatment, tension headaches and migraine headaches make up the vast majority.
Approximately 50% of headache sufferers self-medicate.
How many hours of training are devoted to headache disorders?
Worldwide, an average of 14 hours of medical training are spent on migraine and other chronic headaches- 4 hours of undergraduate training and 10 hours of specialist training per course. Individual countries that affect the average are the Americas, which offer 25 hours of specialist training, and the Eastern Mediterranean, which devotes a mere 2-hour segment of undergraduate training to migraine research.
“Headache on 15 or more days every month affects 1.7 – 4 % of the world’s adult population, according to these studies.”
What percentage of the population prefers natural migraine treatments?
A surprising number of people all over the world favor alternative and complementary therapy for relieving the symptoms of migraines. Specific pain therapies discussed were acupuncture, physical therapy, and naturopathic medicine, which encourage the use of herbs, vitamins, and homeopathic tinctures for complete health care.
In Southeast Asia, 80% of healthcare providers supported the use of naturopathic treatments for headache disorders, while 60% endorsed the use of acupuncture.
In Europe, 68% lean towards physical therapy as a preferred migraine remedy.
The African countries are among the least likely to experiment with dietary supplements for migraines.
If you suffer migraine symptoms, then you’re likely to experience an epileptic seizure someday. Studies linking migraines with epilepsy symptoms explain Topamax, an anti-seizure drug, is also effective for treating migraineheadaches.
Migraine attacks and epileptic attacks are connected
The Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Department of Neurology released a report stating that epilepsy and migraine share a comorbid relationship. That means that the two illnesses share common factors, including medical treatment and patient medical history. Epilepsy doesn’t cause migraine headaches, but if you are a migraine sufferer, then your chances of experiencing an epileptic attack are higher than non-migraineurs. Often, migraine attacks such as migraine aura are mistaken for epileptic seizures. Such was the case when Serene Branson, CBS reporter, suffered an on-air complex migraine attack that greatly simulated an epileptic attack.
In the New England Journal of Medicine, a study on migraines and cerebral blood flow states that migraine patients may eventually experience epileptic attacks, and that symptoms of epilepsy are often worsened by the presence of migraine illness.
Approximately 14% of people diagnosed with epilepsy also suffer migraine attacks, according to a PubMed report on migraine-related seizures. Among migraine sufferers, 6% are also epileptic.
“A better understanding of the pathophysiologic features of spreading hypoperfusion would be of obvious clinical importance, since migraine can sometimes lead to ischemic stroke and since stroke can sometimes be aggravated by or associated with the development of migraine.”
The epilepsy-migraine genetic link
According to a study conducted by the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a mutant form of “chromosome 19” appears in migraine sufferers who experience ataxia(sudden episodes of muscular incoordination). This chromosome correlates with mouse chromosome 8, which appeared in “tottering” laboratory mice that experienced similar epileptic-like seizures.
Anti-epileptic drugs as migraine treatment
Since chronic migraines share a strong link with epilepsy, it is not surprising that headache specialists and neurologists often prescribe anti-epileptic drugs for their migraine patients. One anti-seizure drug, Topamax (topiramate) is a popular migraine remedy for headache sufferers not diagnosed with epilepsy. Topamax works by essentially freezing brain cell stimulation, providing relief for migraine patients and epileptics alike. The side effects of continued usage of Topamax can be disturbing, symptoms such as short-term memory loss, “brain fog,” and difficulty concentrating or organizing thoughts. (See Improve your Memory while taking Topamax for Migraines.)
Per the 2012 alternative energy act, compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) will replace incandescent bulbs, causing headaches for migraine sufferers all over the USA.
Starting next year, the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) will take effect, phasing out all old-fashioned 100-watt bulbs, or electric incandescent lighting, in favor of energy saver compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). For many who oppose the “Incandescent Light Bulb Ban,” the switch to CFLs poses serious health risks. For migraine patients, it means having to cope with another migraine headache trigger caused by eye strain.
1) Curly-Q light Bulbs: How to turn your Kitchen into a Hazardous Waste Dump
Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are glass bulbs that contain argon and mercury gas. When stimulated by electricity, activated mercury particles start producing electromagnetic radiation, which in turn emits lovely, violet-tinged fluorescent indoor lighting for your viewing pleasure. Just be careful when handling CLFs- break one, and you become personally responsible for disposing of hazardous waste material. (You already knew mercury was poisonous, didn’t you?) The EPA states that airborne mercury can be extremely hazardous to your health, and advises using the following steps when a curly lightbulb breaks:
Ventilate the immediate area.
Avoid using a vacuum
Gently sweep broken fluorescent light bulb particles into plastic Ziploc bag, or a glass or metal container.
Use duct tape to pick up stray bits of mercury and glass.
Wipe area with disposable wet wipes.
For rug or carpet cleanup, follow steps 1-5, and then finish with vacuum.
Dispose of all contents at your neighborhood hazardous waste collection center. Check Earth 911 for nearest locations.
2) Incandescent Bulbs are Migraine-Friendly. CFLs…Not so much.
Migraineurs are photophobic, ultra-sensitive to bright lighting. For many migraine patients, no amount of suffering compares to having to endure hours of overhead fluorescent lighting at work, school, or in their own homes. Bright track lighting, stark white backgrounds, and black and white stripes cause torturous head pain for most migraine sufferers. Unless makers of incandescent light bulbs meet the new energy-efficient standards enforced under EISA, soft white light bulbs will become a thing of the past. Goodbye warm, soft glow and romantic lighting. Hello, glaring daggers of light beams.
3) Oxidized Mercury and Mutant Fish
Okay, mercury floating around in the atmosphere is perfectly fine and natural, no worries there. But once large amounts of mercury become “oxidized” by sunlight and bromine, that’s when the trouble begins; that’s when it turns to methylmercury, natural mercury’s evil twin. Methylmercury, when ingested by plants and animals, eventually causes the following damage to human beings:
Central nervous system impairment
Damaged immune system
Brain damage in young children, or in utero
4) You Can’t Dim a Fluorescent Bulb
Fluorescent lighting is overly bright; it also doesn’t cooperate with dimmer switches. That’s because the technology for dimming fluorescent bulbs still awaits perfection, while incandescent bulbs easily adjusts to dimmer switch settings. In the meantime, your choices of lighting will include a) brilliant light, comparable to staring directly into the sun or b) total darkness.
Do you suffer from migraines, and have difficulty explaining chronic pain symptoms to friends and family? Say it with awareness t-shirts, mugs, and posters.
More than words
Migraine illness is an invisible disease- chronic sufferers who experience pain symptoms such as excruciating headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, visual hallucinations, and hypersensitivity to lights, sounds, and scents usually suffer alone, and end up feeling helpless, sad, angry, and neglected.
When words fail, it’s nice to know that there are some clever ways of getting your message across silently. Migraine awareness items such as shirts, mouse pads, buttons, and cards are nothing new, but they are still great tools for encouraging discussion about migraine disease, migraine treatments, and migraine stigma, for starters.
Chronic Headache Websites on Twitter: Follow the best Twitter pages, get updated news, opinion, and research on migraine headaches from top online forums, web communities, and chronic pain experts.
What’s the best way to find informative, trustworthy information on migraine headaches?
The internet is the best place to find the most recent information about health issues, such as chronic pain, fibromyalgia, chronic migraines, and more. However, to ensure that you get the most accurate data, it helps to get your updates from multiple sources. The net is crawling with migraine advocacy groups, online forums for migraine support, and numerous web communities. (See our list of Top 20 Websites for Migraine Headache Patients.)
That’s a lot of internet websites to sift through.
Thankfully, you don’t have to. Included in this list are the most revered, well liked, and helpful Twitter pages for migraineurs:
The top 40 list
40-@MigraineNurseChronic migraineur/nurseanswers your most pressing questions about migraine treatments, from an RN’s perspective.
19-@somebodyhealme Diana Lee, talented writer for Migraine.com and her blog,Somebody Heal Me, discusses chronic illness from a lawyer’s perspective.
18-@painspeaks Liz Hall manages the Pain Sufferers Speak blog, a global community of chronic pain patients.
17-@MigrainedotcomMigraine.com is one of the leading websites for migraine sufferers, featuring online support, migraine forums, expert advice on migraine medications, and thought-provoking articles on migraine stigma.
16-@disabilityscoopBefore you file for disability insurance, check out what Disability Scoop has to say on the latest developments in disability law.
15-@disabledworldClose to 7,000 Twitterers get updated news, videos, and community input on disability insurance reform.
Migraine auras are a visual phenomenon that occurs minutes before a migraine attack strikes. What do Ocular Migraine Auras look like?
The symptoms of migraine aura include visual distortions, stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting, slurred speech, and loss of spatial awareness and time perception. Auras precede a migraine by minutes, giving sufferers little time to prepare for the attack. Also see: 10 Unusual Chronic Pain Relief Tactics for the Bedridden
Stroke or Migraine?
Recently, TV news anchor Serene Branson made headlines when she suffered a migraine aura on the air, while reporting on the Grammy Awards. You Tube views clicked in by the thousands to watch the 10-second video clip of Serene slurring and speaking “gibberish,” symptoms that many onlookers and television viewers confused with the symptoms of stroke. In the following caption, Serene Branson tells Good Morning America what was going through her mind during the live TV Red Carpet segment.
Migraine sufferers often experience severe eye pain during a migraine attack. For many, the agony is excruciating, described as sharp throbbing pain behind one eye socket. The pain can last for hours, during which time migraine victims are unable to do much else than lie in a dark quiet room. Migraine aura with swelling behind the eye can look like this:
Migraine auras can create different types of visual hallucinations; many descriptions vary by patients. Sometimes, the symptoms of aura strike without head pain. Migraine attacks that do not include headaches are called “silent migraines.” Below are some examples of the many different variations in auras witnessed by chronic migraine sufferers.
Do any of these resemble your experiences with auras?
Below- one of the most common type of migraine auras involve seeing a growing arc-shaped hallucination.
Do your migraine auras begin with sparkling “firefly” images that lead to rainbow-like zigzagging flecks of light?
Below is a simulation of what a migraine with aura would look like in a work environment.
This video shows what a migraine attack can look like behind the wheel. The driver portrayed in this caption witnesses an array of colorful light patterns while driving his car.
The following video depicts another example of migraines with aura on the road, this time showing us what “tunnel vision” auras look like.
Ocular migraines are similar to migraines with aura, with one noticeable exception: while ocular migraines strike only one eye, migraine auras can affect vision in both eyes simultaneously. Optical migraines occur when the eyes do not receive enough blood flow, a symptom that results from constricting blood vessels. A headache may or may not accompany an ophthalmic migraine.
Below is a demonstration of what an ocular migraine may look like:
Migraine sufferers often use art therapy to ease their anxieties about migraines.“Migraine art”allows patients to describe their agony in a way that is visual, giving onlookers a chance to feel their pain. By expressing themselves through paintings, photography, videography, and poetry, migraineurs put a face on an otherwise invisible disease. By raising migraine awareness, migraine patients and researchers hope to end the stigma surrounding migraines, and accumulate funds towards migraine education and the pursuit of a cure.
Below is a short montage of migraine art submissions.
Migraine Auras, Explained
Migraine auras can be frightening, especially if you have never experienced one before. Migraine auras may cause feelings of panic, depression, hopelessness, or dizziness. Many fear that they are suffering a stroke or brain tumor. The best way to combat migraine anxiety is to know the facts. Below is a short video describing the science behind migraines with aura.
Researchers warn that smartphone devices cause numerous health problems, including headaches, eye damage, and fatigue.
Their pet names vary from “iGod” to “CrackBerry”- stereoscopic 3D screen smartphones are addicting, and their popularity won’t be fading anytime soon. With one smartphone device, you can Tweet your boss on the way to work, answer calls via Skype, check the stock market, and play Angry Birds, all without taking your hand off the steering wheel (just kidding). There are even health apps for Android and iPhone that will help you stick to your diet, relax to soft background music, and manage your migraineheadaches. (See 20 iPad Apps for Migraine Sufferers.)
How ironic, then, that current research suggests that continuing usage of such smartphone 3D devices can be detrimental to your health. According to a report published in the Journal of Vision, long-term usage of stereo 3D devices like Android phones, BlackBerries, and iPhones, can be extremely harmful for your vision, in addition to causing multiple health problems like headaches, fatigue, and eyestrain.
Martin S. Banks, author of “The Zone of Comfort: Predicting Visual Discomfort with Stereo Displays,” blames the small 3D screen. “When watching stereo 3D displays, the eyes must focus — that is, accommodate — to the distance of the screen because that’s where the light comes from,” explains the optometry professor. “At the same time, the eyes must converge to the distance of the stereo content, which may be in front of or behind the screen.”
The study led by Banks focused on twenty-four adults.
Researchers instructed test subjects to focus on a variety of foreground and background images on a small stereoscopic 3D screen, at close range.
Subjects suffered the most eyestrain and headaches because of having to concentrate on the images that were closest to the screen, as opposed to the background images.
Conversely, when subjects viewed 3D images from a further distance, the average viewing distance from a movie screen, they experienced more pain symptoms from concentrating on the background images.
Researchers hope to conduct similar tests on children and teenagers, hoping to prove a correlation between habit-forming games like Nintendo 3DS and a growing trend in symptoms like headaches, dizziness, and nausea among adolescents.
The manufacturers of Nintendo urge customers to take a gaming break every thirty minutes to avoid eye discomfort, fatigue, or nausea. They also urge parents not to allow small children to use the Nintendo 3DS, because “the muscles for the eyes are not fully formed.”
As for your beloved smartphone, a little space is not such a bad thing. Some other conditions that scientists attribute to excessive smartphone usage include carpal tunnel syndrome, insomnia, and social media addiction. In time, the makers of Android are bound to come up with a device that lets you Google restaurant locations, shop e-Bay, and locate your parked car- all without giving you a migraine.