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Why is Migraine Capitalized?

I am often asked why I break traditional protocol when I write about Migraine and other health conditions by capitalizing the first letter in the name of the disease. My answer is a deeply personal one…

Writers follow a *protocol* called a style guide. This style guide is like a little rule book that tells us how to address certain issues when we write. Part of the reason is because it is easier for the reader to go from author to author when everything is consistent, while other rules are there and nobody seems really sure why. The style guide keeps us neat and consistent, and there are reasons why each of the rules is present in this guide.

Current style guide protocol says that we are not supposed to capitalize the first letter of a disease or condition unless it is named after a person. Two examples of diseases named after a person are Alzheimer’s Disease and Sjogren’s Syndrome. Both of these diseases are named after the doctors that discovered them.

Capitalizing the first letter in the traditional sense is a show of respect for those physicians — and rightly so. They changed the world with their work, and with that the lives of countless people.


My capital M is a bit like sticking my fist into the air to show I’m fighting.

I made a decision a long time ago that the word Migraine is at least as important in my world as any single person’s name. When I write the word Migraine it doesn’t just represent one single person, it represents an entire population of people who are suffering. I consciously think about all of my Migraine friends when I hit the button on my computer that capitalizes the M. It is my show of respect for the daily struggles of other Migraineurs all over the world, and their strength to overcome those struggles and live their lives despite this enormous challenge. They deserve that capital M.

Personally I can’t think of a better reason than that.

It is an advocacy issue for me.

Yes, I’m theoretically wrong in doing it, but I won’t change what I’m doing. Some people agree with me, others do not.

As long as you see me write about health conditions in which a population of people suffer and struggle to live their lives despite their diagnosis, you will see me capitalize the name of that health condition… and proudly so.

This is a conscious decision, not a mistake.

This is another way for me to create awareness.

This is another way for me to acknowledge patients.

This is how I stand up for you.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Emily Jennings Pittman
    7 years ago

    As an English teacher I commend your decision! As a Migraine sufferer I stand up and applaud you decision! It is a disease just like any other…one that I fight every day of my life.

  • Ellen Schnakenberg author
    7 years ago

    Thank you Emily Jennings Pittman! It is unfortunate that some feel the need to criticize my actions, but that was the purpose of this post. I’ve even been passed up for hiring in the past because I do this. Yet, I will stand with my brothers and sisters and continue to break this little, insignificant protocol. Migraine! Migraine! Migraine!

  • SueMichelle Meza
    7 years ago

    Very good reasoning.

  • Ellen Schnakenberg author
    7 years ago

    Thanks for understanding SueMichelle Meza 🙂

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