Question: Why don’t people believe I’m sick or don’t feel good when I say I have a migraine? Why is it seen as less legitimate?
Migraines: an invisible disease
Answer: It’s an invisible disease. People may look at someone with migraine and say “you look fine.”
That’s a different response than if you see someone, let’s say, with a broken leg. You wouldn’t ask them why they can’t run down the street.
The stigma of migraine comes from the fact that it is considered “just a headache” but it is much more than head pain.
Migraines are not ‘just headaches’
It is not “just a headache.” It is a neurologic disease that has light, sound and motion sensitivity as well as nausea and vomiting.
Pain is one of the more prominent symptoms and people with chronic pain are stigmatized as being “weak,” although people with migraine are truly warriors.
In addition, we are still struggling to make sure that everyone believes that migraine is a true neurologic disease.
How prevalent are migraines?
Migraine is highly prevalent; 38 million people in the U.S. have migraine.
Migraine is highly disabling. it is the most disabling neurologic disease globally for people under the age of 50. It is a neurologic disease that has a genetic basis. It’s in the DNA. There is no cure for migraine, but we can treat migraine…just like we do with the majority of diseases, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.
Unfortunately, access and adherence to migraine treatment is historically poor. Data show that the majority of people with migraine don’t even talk to a doctor about their symptoms.
What to do if you have migraines
Get to a doctor for a proper diagnosis.
Work with your physician to develop a treatment regimen that may include non-medication options. These include lifestyle modifications — getting good sleep, making sure you eat regularly, exercising, staying hydrated, coping with stress appropriately.
There are also a variety of treatment options, medications, injections, and devices, for as-needed relief and preventive treatment.
As-needed treatment works too quickly quell an ongoing attack, while the goal for preventive treatment//lifestyle modifications is to prevent those attacks from occurring in the first place.
Remember migraine victims: YOU ARE WARRIORS
People with migraine are warriors that will no longer be ignored or stigmatized. We see you, we believe you, and you are not alone.
So, remember migraine is #NotJustAHeadache. It is a neurologic disease with a genetic basis, and we can treat migraine.