Friday, June 22, 2007

Someone pull the knife out of my eye please??

Woke up this morning with another migraine. Unless you’ve ever had a real migraine, you probably can’t appreciate how painful they really are. Migraines aren’t just severe headaches, they’re agony. In my case, it's as if someone is twisting a knife into the back of my eye.

Several years ago, when I worked for a website called, I interviewed a migraine expert and I read in-depth about migraines. After everything I learned, I realized that I had migraines all my life. I used to have unexplained, undiagnosed severe abdominal pain from time to time. I learned that there’s such a thing as abdominal migraines, most often in kids, but they can happen in adults. And, children who have abdominal migraines often grow into adults who have regular migraines.

Migraines are very common. According to Migraine Canada, 3 million Canadians experience migraines and three times more women then men get them. Some people get auras, or warnings that the migraine is coming. The aura can be visual (lines in front of the eyes, flashing lights, etc) or perhaps a tingling in an arm or leg, for example.

The pain from migraine varies from person to person; my particular migraine feels like there’s a knife twisting in my left eye, but very rarely the right. The Mayo Clinic gives this list for migraine signs and symptoms:
· Moderate to severe pain, which may be confined to one side of the head or may affect both sides
· Head pain with a pulsating or throbbing quality
· Pain that worsens with physical activity
· Pain that interferes with your regular activities
· Nausea with or without vomiting
· Sensitivity to light and sound
Migraines can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days.

No-one knows for sure what causes migraines but many people do have triggers. For some people, it’s certain foods, most commonly red wine, cheese, and foods that have MSG. Other people have theirs triggered by weather changes, stress, or hormones – such as the migraines that accompany a menstrual cycle. Migraines also do tend to run in families.

Some people with migraines, and I include myself in this category, worry that if they get so many painful headaches, how will they know if there is ever something really wrong, since there’s often pain anyway. The trick, again according to the Mayo Clinic, is if there are any changes to what you’re used to having. They give this list:

- An abrupt, severe headache like a thunderclap
- Headache with fever, stiff neck, rash, mental confusion, seizures, double vision, weakness, numbness or trouble speaking
- Headache after a head injury, especially if the headache gets worse
- A chronic headache that is worse after coughing, exertion, straining or a sudden movement
- New headache pain if you're older than 50

Whether a migraine can be treated successfully varies as much as the type of migraines there are. Some people respond well to preventative medications that they take every day. Others respond well to the new anti-migraine medications that are now on the market.

I’m considering trying acupuncture. I’m very lucky in that my migraines have decreased tremendously. I used to have several every month. Now, I’m down to about one or two a month, and some months I don’t have one. But it sure would be nice not to get them at all!

Today's news:
Estrogen therapy linked to less arterial plaque
ATVs now top cause of recreation injuries in Edmonton

No comments: