Estimates vary, but at least a billion people worldwide likely suffer from migraines. However, many people accept the notion that migraines are just headaches. This piece of conventional wisdom is so popular that even migraine sufferers can find themselves accepting the idea. Many people, both those with migraines and those without, want to treat migraines as if they were regular headaches.
However, some things make migraines different from regular headaches, and these differences require a different approach from migraine sufferers and those around them.
Other Symptoms Might Be Worse Than Pain
One of the biggest distinctions between migraines and other headaches is that pain is not the only symptom. In fact, it’s often not the primary symptom. Some people even get “silent migraines” where they don’t experience migraine pain and only have the other symptoms.
Besides pain, migraine symptoms can include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Light sensitivity
- Distorted vision
- Visual artifacts like lights or spots
- Sound sensitivity
When a migraine hits, the pain might be severe–it often is–but the accompanying symptoms often make migraine disabling. It is hard to do anything when hit by severe nausea. Nor can people do much work or recreation when they have light sensitivity. Distorted vision and visual artifacts can lead to serious errors if a person tries to work. Vertigo can be dangerous for people working with or around heavy machinery, heights, or poisonous chemicals. On top of this, the depression that comes with migraine can be crippling.
This means you can’t treat migraines simply with pain medication. Pain medication might be part of your treatment, but it is unlikely to be the sole solution.
Migraine Symptoms Can Persist for Days
While typical headaches usually last for minutes or hours, migraine symptoms can last for days. The typical migraine lasts for between four and 72 hours. However, a prodrome often precedes a migraine. The prodrome can last for days, with increasing symptoms. Then some people experience an aura for up to an hour before the migraine itself starts. Once the migraine has ended, people may experience a postdrome, often consisting of extreme fatigue and depression, for up to two days after the migraine.
In other words, for some people and some attacks, migraine symptoms may last for a week.
Prevention, Planning, and Preparation
One thing that distinguishes a migraine from a regular headache is that there may be a known sequence of events that govern the migraine. Many people get migraines triggered by very specific circumstances. This might be very regular for some people, such as menstrual migraines, which correspond to a woman’s menstrual cycle. Other times, migraines follow specific events.
Predictability allows migraine sufferers to attempt to prevent migraines. This might mean avoiding certain activities, foods, and drinks. It might also mean taking specific actions during the prodrome to head off a developing migraine. In still other cases, migraine sufferers might know when a migraine is coming on and might need to rush home before the migraine attack makes driving or other forms of transportation difficult or dangerous.
Take Time to Recover When You Need It
Because of the debilitating symptoms that might accompany migraine, migraine sufferers need to take the time to recover from their attacks when they need it. Don’t buy into the misconception that not working through a migraine is a personal failing. In many ways, it’s in everyone’s best interest for you to do what it takes to ride out the migraine safely.
When you have to, make sure you leave work, excuse yourself from social occasions, and postpone housework, hobbies, and other “productive” tasks. This is especially true if the activities themselves can trigger or worsen migraines–such as exercise or cleaning with certain chemicals.
Keep Looking for an Effective Treatment
Another thing that sets migraines apart from regular headaches is that an effective treatment often exists that can prevent migraine attacks. However, migraines are a blanket category, and it can be hard to find the right treatment that will give you good, long-term treatment. What works for other migraine sufferers–even what works for the majority–may not work for you.
We know: most migraine sufferers try multiple treatments. Some try so many that they give up. However, you should not give up. Keep trying, and you may find the treatment that lets you live a mostly normal life.
One migraine treatment that gets overlooked is TMJ treatment. Temporomandibular joint disorders (called TMJ or TMD) can trigger migraines. One common site that leads to migraines is the trigeminal nerve. The trigeminal nerve controls your jaw muscles, among other things, so it is not at all far-fetched that TMJ can trigger migraines. In addition, TMJ treatment gives you a drug-free migraine treatment option. You might be able to get migraine relief without relying so heavily on medications and dealing with medication side effects.
Don’t Expect People to “Work Through” Migraines
We want to reiterate that people with migraines shouldn’t expect to work through them. If you know a migraine sufferer, let them take the time they need to recover from migraine attacks. This holds true whether the person is a friend, family member, or coworker. Believe us; most migraine sufferers would rather do anything than deal with their migraine. They would happily trade even a long, exhausting day of work for a migraine attack any day.
Looking for Migraine Treatment in Southlake, TX?
If you are a migraine sufferer in Southlake, TX, who hasn’t yet found a good treatment option, let the TMJ dentists at StarImage Dentistry help. We offer drug-free TMJ treatment that has helped many people get long-lasting, even permanent relief or reduced migraine severity and frequency.
Please call (817) 587-4566 or email StarImage Dentistry today for an appointment at our office in Southlake, TX.