• Jenn Kalchik

Living with Migraines

CW: migraines, nausea


A migraine is not a headache. That's been the hardest to explain to people once I started getting migraines. My worst migraine happened in 2019, and last for five days. I ended up going to urgent care because the pain and the nausea were so bad. Sure, head pain is associated with migraines, but there are more symptoms that accompany migraines. In addition, migraines can last longer than regular headaches. Read about my experience with migraines and some of the ways I've learned to live with them.


What is a migraine?

Mayo Clinic defines a migraine as the following:

A migraine can cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on one side of the head. It's often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine attacks can last for hours to days, and the pain can be so severe that it interferes with your daily activities.

What can trigger a migraine?

There are numerous environmental factors that can trigger a migraine. Some common triggers include stress, change in sleep schedule, diet, hormones, weather changes, dehydration, light or smell. For me, MSG and stress caused by my anxiety seem to be the most recurring triggers for my migraines.


Stages of a migraine


Prodrome

The pro-dome stage can happen a few hours before a migraine attack or up to two days before a migraine attack. Symptoms can vary, but they can include mood swings, difficulty focusing, irritability, and feelings of depression.


Aura

Not many people experience auras before a migraine attack. For those that do, they will experience a short period of vision loss, geometric patterns, flashing, or vision blurriness in one or both eyes.


Attack

This is the migraine itself. It can last for up to three days. Head pain is most common with migraines, and where people confuse migraines with being a bad headache. Someone can also experience light/sound/smell sensitivity, nausea, anxiety, and insomnia.


Post-drome

Think of the post-drome like a hangover for your migraine. Sometimes the post-drome can be as debilitating as the migraine attack itself.


Preventing migraines

There's no method to prevent migraines from ever coming back. However, there are some general tips and lifestyle changes you can follow to minimize the number of migraines you may have or the severity of them. I tend to get a migraine at least once a month, but I know it could be much worse if I didn't change my lifestyle to accommodate for migraine prevention. Here are some suggestions to prevent migraines and the severity of them:

In addition to these tips, it's important to know when to see a doctor about your migraines. My doctor recommended that I keep a journal of when I get a migraine. By tracking when you get a migraine and what symptoms may be associated with migraines, you can help pinpoint if there are specific triggers you may need to avoid in the future, or if they occur around certain times of the month. Your doctor may also prescribe you stronger medicine for preventing or treating migraines; right now I have medicine for treating migraines, but my migraines aren't frequent enough where I need to take medicine daily to control them.


Do you suffer from migraines? How do you prevent migraines or prevent the severity of them? Let me know in the comments!

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