It is said that Hippocrates, one of the most important figures in medical history, recognized migraines around the year 400 BC. Although his observations were extremely advanced for his time, he still got quite a few things wrong. He believed the condition was caused by stomach vapors and that vomiting would easily treat the symptoms.
As laughable as that seems to us today, many people are still holding on to popular myths surrounding migraines. Here are four of the most common misconceptions held by non-migrainers.
1. A Migraine Is Just A Headache
A migraine is much more than a simple headache. In fact, the World Health Organization has classified the condition as one of the most debilitating diseases in the world. Each year, these debilitating headaches cost employers $12 billion in lost productivity and sick days.
Along with throbbing head pain, a migraine involves other painful symptoms like nausea, vomiting, dizziness, light sensitivity, and blurred vision. Attacks can last up to 72 hours.
2. Migraines Aren’t A Serious Medical Condition
Migraine headaches are actually classified as a neurological disease. Beyond that, migraine sufferers are at an increased risk of developing other dangerous conditions.
• Ischemic stroke: Studies have shown that certain women suffering from migraines are at an increased risk of ischemic stroke, a condition that involves a blocked artery in the brain.
• Hemorrhagic stroke: Women who have migraine with aura are more likely than non-migrainers to suffer a hemorrhagic stroke, a condition in which a ruptured vessel floods the brain with blood.
• Cardiovascular disease: Individuals who suffer from migraines with aura are nearly twice as likely to develop major cardiovascular disease when compared to the general population.
• Mental health concerns: Studies show that migrainers are highly likely to also suffer from anxiety or depression. It been reported that up to 40 percent of migrainers are also depressed.
3. Only Adults Get Migraines
Unfortunately, migraines are not an adults-only condition. It often goes undiagnosed, but toddlers as young as 18 months old have been diagnosed with migraines. The illness usually begins when a child hits the teenage years. As many as 60 percent of children with migraines continue to have the headaches after the age of 30.
4. Migraine Sufferers Can Take A Pill and Feel Better
Even many doctors are guilty of believing this myth. Migraine patients are often incorrectly diagnosed with sinus or tension headaches. They are sent home with instructions to take over-the-counter pain relievers and possibly, a course of antibiotics. The actual migraine headache is never addressed and the migrainer continues to suffer. One study showed that the average migraine sufferer sees four physicians before getting the correct diagnosis and treatment.
Doctors and scientific researchers are slowly starting to figure out the direct causes and proper treatments for migraines. Even with the proper diagnosis, many migraine patients have to endure a long process of trial and error before they can find a treatment that works for them. A therapy that reduces migraines in one individual may actually trigger migraines in another.
If you suffer from migraines, don’t let these myths get you down! Keep up to date on migraine research and encourage your friends and family to do the same. With increased awareness, these misconceptions will eventually fade and all migrainers can get the treatment they need.
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