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18 things not to say to a person with migraine

18 Things Not to Say to a Person with Migraine

You responded to our original Things not to say article with more frustrating comments you’ve heard from misinformed people about migraines. So we’ve included them in our updated graphics below.


Although lowering stress levels is good for anyone, this will not eliminate our attacks which are both genetic and neurologic in nature. Saying this will cause additional stress to us though, because we have enough to deal with in our lives without feeling guilty and judged by those we care the most about.
View the original post by Ellen.

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  • headvice
    1 year ago

    My migraines started when I was about 15 years into a 30-year career that I never really wanted. Financially, I didn’t have the choice to quit. There was no question of working during a migraine. I had to go to the ER to get an injection of some kind of painkiller and Phenergan, to stop the vomiting. Fortunately, it was well documented that I had hideous migraines, and wasn’t just looking for narcotics.

    Funny thing: I have not had a single migraine in 16+ years, since retiring.

  • wonderboy
    1 year ago

    No its not a women thing. I am a man and I get the always and worse then a lot of women I know.

  • BrianJay
    2 years ago

    My mom thinks I’m crazy and that it’s all in my head. Really pisses me off when she says I’m overthinking things too. I know my body better than anyone else and I know that I’m in constant pain. My neck hurts all the time, my head hurts all the time and various other issues connected to those problems make it really hard to function sometimes. I just get sick of people thinking I’m just being paranoid or that I’m stressing myself out.

  • BrianJay
    2 years ago

    I love my mom too, but she can be very stubborn. It tends to make my migraines worse when I get into an argument with her. She tells me I need to do and I need to do that, but sometimes I’m in so much pain that I can’t even think straight.

  • Ronan
    2 years ago

    The worst thing to say to me, “Again – you have another one?”

  • Falcon6
    2 years ago

    I have had someone tell me that I should get a hysterectomy. After all, her friend with migraine got one and it cured her, so it should cure me.

  • Beans
    2 years ago

    My Mom has been telling me to get a hysterectomy all the time lately. I’ve been having a lot of difficulty with my hormones impacting my Migraines, but the idea of never having kids crushes me.

  • adaygo
    12 months ago

    Do not get a hysterectomy just for migraines,please?! I got a hysterectomy 16 yrs ago, not specifically for migraines,I had other issues but I still have migraines. There are zero guarantees that a hysterectomy will help your migraines. The drs, several, thought it was a dip or peak in estrogen before my cycle and that my migraines would improve, did not! If anything,they worsened bc after you have to find the proper hormone replacement meds and then deal with thyroid issues,etc! Good luck!

  • Celeste-Reaper
    2 years ago

    Man I’ve suffered through all of these comments and more. Probably because I’m a teenager, so it’s mainly seen as me trying to get out of social situations and not actually suffering from pain. Also, for the “it couldn’t possibly last more than a day!” comment, I once had a migraine last me 32 days straight. 32 days of me suffering and having to attend school and other social functions because after a week, people thought I was just lying. It’s frustrating how many times I’ve been told that it couldn’t possibly be as bad as I say it is.

  • Macbeck
    3 years ago

    Complaining to my neurologist about ER doctors who diagnose “headache” he reminded me that technically a migraine IS a type of headache.

    Me: Well that’s kind of like comparing a mouse to a lion – the ARE both animals.

    He chuckled, so I won that round…

  • Kathy Ringering Wendt
    4 years ago

    The worst migraine I ever had lasted for 18 days straight. It was a nightmare that I couldn’t wake up from. I think the biggest trigger was stress for that one. Some of mine are hormonal though. I don’t have as many as I used to. There have been times I thought I might have a brain tumor, especially when I was younger (teenager). Oddly, after I divorced my husband they went away for all of the years I was single :).

  • Jody Feavearyear
    4 years ago

    I had a similar experience, after my ex and I separated my migraines diminished in frequency! The only times they disappeared entirely was during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. Wish I could reproduce that effect without the pregnancy.

  • GemsGirl
    4 years ago

    My husband whom I love dearly uses the term migraine to say he has a headache. When I asked him if he was ever diagnosed with migraines, he said no. I then said what you have is a headache.. not a migraine. Migraines have certain symptoms that regular headaches do not have. I get annoyed with this because it is common and it irritates me. I know it is a small issue, but my migraines are horrible and to have someone compare what I suffer with to a regular headache is for me hurtful. Like saying what I suffer from is not anything but a headache and I am just using the term migraine to get sympathy. Which has been said to my face, not by my husband, but my own mother.. ugh.

  • Sunshine
    4 years ago

    All of these comments are annoying except #13!

    Everything that improved my condition (and therefore improved my life) started with someone saying, “have you tried this or that.”

    And I have passed those suggestions on to other migraine sufferers.

    If you’ve heard of something for treating migraines that I may not know about, I am all ears!

  • DozenRabidMongeese
    2 years ago

    Same here! As long as it’s a legitimate attempt to inform and not a flippant dismissal thinly veiled as a suggestion, I’m all ears. I will also politely inform others if I’ve already tried something they suggested or if my new Dr. and I ruled that option out. Friends encouraging me to try going to a specialist after they read an article about one helped me in my search for a better Dr., and other friends telling me about all the odd treatments they and their families had used with success convinced me there were more options than my original narrow-minded Dr. knew about.

  • 258thll
    4 years ago

    I have suffered through migraines for more than 40 years. It played hell with school and work. I had some that would last several days when I was younger. Thankfully they no longer last more than a day or so, and happen way less often! I had one boss who could tell from my eyes if I was going to last the shift, but still got mad when I had to leave early. Back then nobody understood that a migraine was as bad as it really was! Any light or noise made it worse, and the choice of medicine then was aspirin! Unfortunately, my daughter has inherited the migraine gene, but these days at least there are some drugs that work on them to make the less intense! I hate when people use migraine as a generic term for a headache! A migraine goes WAY beyond a headache!!

  • Celeste-Reaper
    2 years ago

    Wow 40 years? I’ve suffered through 3 years and it’s already hell…makes me worried for the future.

  • John
    5 years ago

    My father in law is one of those people that is a 92 year old miracle discoverer. He offers every analgesic tablet, gel cap, cream and ointment. He sees cure in vitamins, additives, supplements and berries or juices of all kinds. If he and others only knew that migraineurs do keep up with ANY THING that could possibly help. But many things turn out to be triggers for a migraine attack.

  • Jan Me
    5 years ago

    I’m a teacher and I’ve had migraines for fifty years and tried everything possible. One principal challenged my migraine sick days, with doctor’s certificates, saying flippantly, “Oh they’ve got a cure for that these days haven’t they?” Another colleague gave me grief a few years ago following a period of absence from cluster migraines, and I explained to her just how painful and depressing it was being a migraine sufferer. I described the amount of meds I was often forced to take to combat the pain and how that would adversely affect my teaching, and how taking sick leave is the best option. I later heard that this person had spread rumours I might be some kind of drug dependent addict!
    At the height of migraine attacks, my husband always berates me for “not doing enough” to help myself, ie going to the GP, neurologist, asking for new meds and treatments etc. he even wanted me try acupuncture again (third time), because it worked for his friend who had ‘headaches’. He also expects me not to work on the computer, when my job depends on it, even though I take necessary breaks and use an ergonomic chair.
    The other thing that makes me crazy is when people at work say “I’ve got a migraine, I’m going to take an asprin” and they do, and it’s gone in five minutes.
    Finally, I can’t emphasise the importance of seeing a counsellor to counteract the negative effects of all the subtle messages that you are a junkie, a malingerer, a hypochondriac, attention seeking, lazy, crazy, etc etc.

  • Spedshan
    5 years ago

    The exhaustion when I have to “put on a brave face” is real! I get so tired after a long day of fighting with my body that I want to collapse. Thank you for validating this feeling I’ve had.

  • Msmmain
    5 years ago

    “It cant hurt that bad” always makes me want to show them what it feels like. the closest i’ve ever gotten one of these people to admitting head pain is different from any other pain is one guy who had had a serious concussion and knew what that kind of pain & sound/light/movement sensitivity it brings with it. Part of this is also that people expect us to complain and whine and be what THEY are like when they have an owie or are sick. if we whine and bitch when we’re hurting this much, they’d never want to be near us, and the pity and skepticism that comes from their ignorance just makes us want to be as absolutely invisible on our suffering scale as possible.

  • Celeste-Reaper
    2 years ago

    The best explanation I’ve found for how bad a migraine works is telling them this: Imagine you’ve got someone who constantly follows you, and at random times decides to whack you upside the head with a hammer. And this person continues to do this over and over and over and over again. This person never goes away, is always waiting for when they feel like attacking you once again. And on top of that from all the head injuries you’ve got dizzy spells, times when you want to collapse (and do), nausea, sensitivities to light, smell, sound, and touch, and even more symptoms. And when you tell people about this person, they say that they can’t see the attacker or that it can’t be that bad. It tends to work for me at least

  • Sunshine
    4 years ago

    Plus, talking hurts, so I’m not even capable of whining!

    There are times that my face contorts like I might cry, but I can’t even cry.

    One ER doc gave me a very loud lecture about “burning the candle at both ends,” and I couldn’t even tell him that the sheer volume of his voice felt like he had just walked into the room and started boxing me in my ears. All I could do was throw up.

  • John
    5 years ago

    I have only had two or three say it can’t be that bad it’s just a headache. One was an ER DR. I have been in the hospital twice for over two weeks with migraines. I do find newer friends, coworkers and acquaintances are quick to offer their miracle cures mostly out of ignorance. Over the last 6 decades I have found the most help and support from Doctors, friends and coworkers who have spouses or relatives who are migraineurs. My mother fought for my treatment as a child because as a migraineur she knew my plight. Having learned the art of standing up for myself from my mother I fought for treatment of the “womans disease” until it was accepted that men were migraineurs. I’ve come a long way but still a chronic sufferer. I am under the care of a neurologist, headache specialist and a primary care physician who understands migraineurs. I take prevention therapy and have abortive medication to stop full blown attacks. I’m also about to begin a new therapy. Most of my life I’ve had 9-15 attacks a month and tried to act as if it was “just a headache” and I’m tired of it.

  • Sophie Tramel
    5 years ago

    I had a Specialist say to me,”Well, at least you don’t have breast cancer”. I just went to my car & burst into tears. It’s been almost 20 years, but I’ve never forgotten it!

  • chebbot
    5 years ago

    I agree that almost all of these are incredibly annoying…But there are a few that I appreciate even though they’re unhelpful. When I’m really hurting in company of coworkers or friends they ask if I took anything yet, to drink some water, go get some air, have I tried ___(usually I have.) They know they aren’t going to cure me, they’re just trying to help and there isn’t much else to say. It’s uncomfortable to watch someone suffer and have no way of helping. I appreciate that they notice and try, even when it’s something I’ve heard 10000 times.

    The people think they’re dumb suggestion is going to magically cure me can go stick it though.

  • Macbeck
    3 years ago

    Along the vein of those who know you and are truly trying to help, I can mentally hear my Dad looking at me with love in his eyes and a smile on his face, saying gently “You know it’s all in your head.” Always makes me smile & think about how much he loved me. 🙂

  • MelanieM moderator
    3 years ago

    That is so sweet Macbeck. Thanks for sharing with us. Melanie (Migraine.com team member)

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