This post is sponsored by Pernix, the makers of TREXIMET®.
Did you know that women are three times more likely to experience migraines than men?[v]
More than 32 million Americans, 70 percent of whom are women, suffer from migraines, according to www.mayo.edu, the Mayo Clinic website. Anyone who has ever experienced a migraine knows it is a headache like no other and can be completely debilitating. To help you understand the nature of this condition, and reduce your chances of getting a migraine, FabOverFifty sat down with Heather McCoy, Doctor of Nursing Practice and board-certified in headache medicine by the National Headache Foundation. Dr. McCoy treats her patients at Integrative Headache Care in Scottsdale, AZ.
1. What is a migraine, In layman’s terms?
A migraine is a complex, neurologic condition associated with episodes or “attacks” of symptoms that last several hours to several days,[i] including severe pounding, throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head, nausea, an aversion to lights, sounds, and smells, all of which are worse with physical activity.[ii]
2. What’s the difference between a headache and a migraine?
People rarely miss work, school, and social events because of a headache, but with migraine, these things are often practically impossible.[iii] Even thinking and concentration can be affected.[iv]
3. Who is most susceptible to migraines?
Women are three times more likely to suffer from migraines than men.[v] One out of every four women will experience a migraine at least once in her life, but they do tend to lessen after menopause.[vi] However, it’s important to know that anyone, even children, can experience a migraine.[vii]
4. Why do people get migraines? Are there certain triggers?
We don’t really know why some people get migraines and others don’t, but yes, many migraine sufferers can identify a “trigger,” something they know can cause them to have a migraine attack, such as lack of sleep, skipping a meal, stress, or changes in weather or altitude.[viii] Some people may have attacks triggered by certain foods, such as alcohol or chocolate, or certain smells like cigarette smoke or perfume.
5. Can a woman tell if a migraine is coming? What are the signs?
Some migraine sufferers experience an “aura,” a change in sensation that occurs right before a migraine attack, often affecting vision with bright dots or zig-zag lines.[ix] Others may experience a phase of migraine called the prodrome, which is a set of symptoms that can occur up to 48 hours before a migraine headache sets in.[x] Prodrome may include appetite changes, irritability or fatigue. Most migraine attacks occur without warning, so it’s important to have rescue medication available at all times.
6. Are migraines debilitating? What can happen (overall) to a woman while she’s experiencing one?
Migraines can be extremely debilitating. In fact, a migraine headache is the sixth most disabling disease in the world.[xi] It can interrupt work, school, daily activities, and social activities. When a woman experiences a migraine, she may need to stop what she’s doing and completely withdraw into a dark, quiet room until the migraine stops.
7. Is there a relationship between menopause and migraines?
Interestingly, migraines often become less severe and less frequent around the age of 50, about the same time as menopause for many women.[xii] However, some studies have suggested that menopause makes migraine worse for up to 45% of women. This may be because the symptoms that can be experienced during menopause (hot flushes and night sweats) result in disturbed sleep, increasing stress levels and lowering the threshold for migraine attacks.