If you’ve ever experienced a migraine, then you’re familiar with the pulsating head pain, sensitivity to light and sound, and nausea that basically feels like the worst hangover you’ve ever had times 100. If you’re lucky enough to have never experienced this curse, then there are likely some things no one has ever told you about migraines that I wish I’d known earlier. And knowing about these things can help you be more sympathetic to your migraine-suffering friends.
While a lot of people throw around the word migraine to describe a headache, it’s actually a neurological disorder that’s much more than head pain. “A migraine can cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on just one side of the head. It’s often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound,” the Mayo Clinic explained on its website.
Normal headaches usually go away in a few hours or with the help of over-the-counter medications, but migraines can persist for days or even weeks and cause symptoms that are so disabling they affect sufferers’ ability to perform daily tasks. I have had migraine headaches since I was 6, and I know it can be hella frustrating trying to explain the experience to someone who’s never had one. But, I’m going to give it a go by telling you about these 21 things you might not know about migraines.
1. There Are Different Kinds Of Migraines
Migraine headaches aren’t all the same. Some people have chronic migraines, which are migraines that occur 15 or more times a month. There are also menstrual migraines, which can happen before, during, and/or after your period. Some migraine suffers experience a visual disturbance called an aura before an attack, while others have ocular migraines, which interfere with vision but don’t cause pain.
2. Migraines Affect Women Three Times More Than Men
According to the Migraine Research Foundation, 38 million people in the U.S. experience migraines and 28 million of them are women.
3. Migraines Can Cause Sensitivity To Scents
If a migraine-suffering friend is bothered by your perfume, they’re not trying to be difficult. Up to 50 percent of people with migraines are extremely sensitive to smells to the point of becoming nauseous or dizzy when exposed to certain scents.
4. Not All Bosses Think Migraines Are A Good Reason To Miss Work
A series of stories posted on the website Migraine.com detail the frustration of trying to work with migraines. People discuss everything from threats of termination to not being believed when they have to miss work because of a migraine.