The Worst Thing About a Migraine Isn’t the Headache

migraineThe worst thing about migraines isn't the head pain: It's everything else. A new study by surveyed 2632 sufferers about their migraine experiences. Almost all of the respondents were women. Though we don't know how many of the participants were moms, almost half of them (40 percent) admitted that migraines affect their relationships with their children.

Half also said migraines have affected their jobs. And some (10 percent) even said their illness had led to divorce or separation. Meanwhile, employers lose about $13 billion due to their employees' migraine-related missed days. OK, I get it now: A migrane is way, way more than a headache.


So the headache part of a migraine is a given -- we all know about that. But for most sufferers migraine is actually vicious combination of symptoms like sensitivity to sound and smell, difficulty concentrating, nausea, fatigue, and neck pain. Treating those symptoms is complicated: Most respondents say they've held off on medications either because of the high costs or the side effects. And worst of all, the combination of symptoms and the problems with medication means many suffer from depression and anxiety, as well.

So yeah, take some pain reliever and a nap? Apparently that's not going to work for most. It's kind of amazing (in a horrible way) how hard it seems to get a handle on this condition. The friends I've had with migraine all seem to disappear from off the face of the Earth from time to time. And they're always trying something new in a desperate attempt to fight off their painful and debilitating demons. Now that I've seen these survey results I know it's not just my friends -- this is a widespread problem.

Anyway, did this study to serve "as a wake up call to the healthcare system and to society as a whole to recognize the broad impact that migraine has on the lives of those who suffer from it." Most of us can try to be more patient and compassionate, but I hope this leads to better, more comprehensive treatments.

Have you seen the way migraines can affect people's lives?


Image via Julien Haler/Flickr



alternative medicine, medicine


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Gina Kilby

i get them all the time. nothing works but excedrin migraine. which i dont have and not about to shell out hundreds of dollars on ebay to get!!

Pinkmani Pinkmani

I get migraines when I'm overwhelmed, dehydrate during exercise, and extreme temperature changes. It feels as if my brain is detached from my spinal cord. It's really annoying because I don't like taking pills but it's so necessary.

Deweymom Deweymom

I get cluster migraines. My last attack lasted 27 days. Twenty. Seven. Days. Migraine would hit at night after I would go to I was up at night dealing with it...then I would have to get up with the kids and function all day. Worst of it all was that I was nursing and couldn't take a damn thing except Advil and caffiene.

truth... truthrowan

Migraines with Aura, One of the worst thing for me is the stroke like symptoms. I start to see the lights in my left eye and blind spots before the pain hits, then the numbness on my left side, hand first, then in my face and cheek. The numbness in my face hits about the same time as the pain, so I'm blind and pretty much paralyzed on one side, and in agony. 

The very worst thing is people not understanding or caring how really awful it is.  

craft... craftycatVT

I get them and if I don't want to have them for 3 days, I need to take Relpax. The problem is that with insurance it costs me $100 for 12 pills which will last me about a month. I wish they could offer generic Relpax already!

nonmember avatar Tiffany

At least you have found a med that works! Some of us spend the big bucks, trying several different kinds, racking up the costs.
I had a spell of migraines that lasted 17 months. Like 25+ days per month. You sleep with it, you wake up with it, you go to work with it. Your children compound the pain it seems like when you have to care for them (single mom here).
They are truly debilitating. Your job suffers. IF, IF you are able to make it to work, your performance is usually down. It's a terrible cycle. Every smell, sound, light, movement from sitting to standing intensifies the pain. I happened to have severe neck and shoulder pain with mine, which radiated up into my head.

There has GOT TO BE SOMETHING BETTER than what is currently available to us.

Laura Jerdak

I get migraines.  But I would rather have a million migraines than a cluster headache.  At least I can do something about my migraines.  My cluster headaches are an unstoppable force when I get them.  The worst I had it was for months on end with 3-4 attacks a day.  So hard to function and pain killers do nothing. Many people describe it as the worst pain they have ever experienced and they are nicknamed suicide headaches.  People who have had given birth say that the clusters are worse pain than giving birth.

nonmember avatar Kelli

To Gina kilby: I get excedrin migraine at my local Walmart. Why would you have to get it on eBay? Does excedrin not make it anymore? I haven't bought it in about 4 months......

With my migraines I get blind spots in my eye and tunnel vision among other symptoms then the headache hits. It is misery and it angers me that some people think it JUST a regular headache.

Betwe... BetweenCourses

Gina, exedrin migraine is just tylenol, aspirin and caffeine. I've taken 2 extra strength tylenol(1000 mg), an aspirin and had a cup of coffee, and it works! (or a diet coke works well too) and that's actually more tylenol than is on exedrin migraine

Tara Morris

I get something called a silent migraine, but believe me, when I get one, I cannot function.  My brain shuts off for the duration.

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