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Migraine Awareness Month #7: List Topper-Myths & Misconceptions

There are lots of myths and misconceptions about Migraine. Which one tops your list as the biggest and most common? What can we do to get the truth out there?

In my friend circles I am now known as someone who has really severe migraines. This belief persisted even in the months when I was feeling amazing, and now that I am getting migraines a little more frequently again, nothing has changed: most friends seem to perceive that my migraines are the ultimate worst, and when they mention that they’ve had a migraine, they are always quick to point out that mine are worse.

“Oh, I had a horrible migraine last night—oh, I mean, nothing like yours.”

Now that is just silliness. I appreciate the kindness behind the words, but in the end it does not do any of us much of a service if even episodic migraineurs treat their health condition as if it is in some way inferior to those of us who get frequent attacks.

When I gently mention to friends that very painful or dizzying headaches and “sinus headaches” that cause them to throw up are reason enough to talk to a doctor, I am careful not to pretend I know well enough to diagnose them with anything. But I do in many cases point out that, from my experience and knowledge, it sure sounds like they may be dealing with migraine disease.

And when I say such a thing, I often get the following response: “Oh, my headaches are nothing like yours,” which suggests to me that people have definitions of migraine that vary widely depending on what migraineurs they know.

All this is to say that the following misconceptions top my list of misconceptions about migraine

  • That many, many people are utterly unaware of how migraine can manifest itself very differently in every single migraineur.
  • That if someone you know has worse migraine symptoms than you, then your migraine attacks do not deserve to be taken seriously.
  • That even doctors and healthcare providers have a very narrow definition of migraine and, due to lack of education and overbooked schedules (both elements often beyond their control), they themselves don’t recognize migraine in all its forms.
  • That even within one person migraine can change its form, appearance, and severity from attack to attack and year to year.

What, in your opinion, is the biggest misconception about migraine?

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  • Chris Wise
    8 years ago

    I went for years being told my the doctor that my headaches were sinus pain or migraine depending which one I saw until my optician (where I had been sent out of synch by the doc) confirmed my symptoms were classical migraine and not caused by an eye problem. It’s possble some of these people have been told the same by medics and don’t want to “pretend” to have migraine particularly to someone whomthey know has severe migraine. Oh and I wasn’t given any treatment until I saw a third doctor in the practice.

  • Diana Lee
    8 years ago

    It is weird when people say that because IMO any migraine is one too many. Which is what I usually say in response!

  • Migraine Monologues
    8 years ago

    I get this comment a lot too, “I get migraines too, but nothing like yours Victoria!”. It’s hard because you can never judge another persons pain, as you say – but it frustrates me enormously when people don’t go to the Doctors because ‘they’re nothing like mine’…..

  • Kathy Phelan-DeLauro Mark DeLauro
    8 years ago

    I also agree…funny tho…everyone thinks I know all medicines and treatments since mine are/were so severe! I don’t!! I know what I and my sister and kids have tried..but not all people are the same..not all migraines are the same! I get cluster and migraines with/without aura and occipital neuralgia so each is different and I don’t know all things related to neurology!!

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