Migraine in Families
Last updated: August 2023
We know that genetics can come into play with migraines and many other conditions. I know many people with migraine. Some will have a sibling, mom, dad, or their children, who have followed in their footsteps with the migraine saga. I have two children. Even though their migraines are nothing like mine, they still deal with them on occasion. I also have a nephew who's been having migraines since he was around 17. I interviewed each of them to help you all understand that no matter what, migraine is different in everyone.
When/how were you diagnosed with migraine?
I'd been having what I thought was a bad headache with other symptoms, until I was finally diagnosed years later. It took being hospitalized in the early 2000s to find out that what was said to be multiple sclerosis, a worm in my brain, or a tumor, was actually migraine with aura and migraine associated vertigo. Back in the mid-90s, no one ever added everything together to say I had migraines, but the doctors looked over my symptoms and history to say that I had actually been having migraines since 1996!!
- My Daughter: “I was diagnosed while pregnant with my first child. It was by an ER doctor. This was almost five years ago in 2018.”
- My Son: “I started having migraine symptoms when I was in middle school. You took me to my primary doctor. He asked you if you had migraines also. Because of my symptoms and history with them, the doctor said I had them too. This was around 2009.”
- My Nephew: “I believe the cancer doctor.” My nephew had been diagnosed with a type of lymphoma of the eye. After getting it removed, ocular migraines started. “I was around 17 years old.”
How often do you have attacks?
I now have what is called chronic migraine. I have not gone a full week without a migraine since the late 90s. I used to have anywhere between 20 and 25 migraine days a month. Now I have about 15 to 17 migraine days monthly. I will take that! In my book, that is progress.
- My Daughter: “I only get migraines every few months.”
- My Son: “I do not get them that often anymore. I hardly have one. I use to get them a lot while in middle and high school though.”
- My Nephew: “They seem to be slowing down as of lately.” He does not get many currently, but stated, “after getting a migraine…I have a big problem with consecutive migraines. When I receive one, I usually get one the following day if I do not do some sort of cleanse after the first migraine.”
How do you currently treat your symptoms?
When I realize that I am getting one, I start by going into my room where my room-darkening shades are. I make sure to have a cup of ice nearby. I take Excedrin Migraine and IV Zofran. I lay down in my low-noise area to decrease symptoms. After 30 mins or so, I will use my nasal Imitrex. All I have to do is inject the medication into one side of my nose. This is so much easier than pills and, it works for me. I do have to use two doses, at times.
- My Daughter: “I use Butalbital, acetaminophen and caffeine. It is an all-in-one combination pill. When I did not have any, or it was not helping, I would go to the ER for a migraine cocktail.”
- My Son: “I was given a prescription for caffeine and Ibuprofen while I was in middle and high school. My mom had to give the school-nurse money buy me a Coke, from the teacher’s lounge. I also used to take a medicine called guanfacine for at home. I haven’t taken it since high school. The only reason that I know is because, my mom keeps everything. Lol. We still have the last bottle from 2013! Now, I do not take anything except maybe Motrin if it gets too bad.”
- My Nephew: “I used to take medicine in the triptan family, but they made me feel worse with the side effects. I have cut out certain nuts, no pork, certain vegetables and processed foods. Really anything that I have eaten that led to a migraine after, I stopped eating it. Doing a cleanse where I eat leafy greens to kind of flush out any toxins that I may have consumed, helps after getting a migraine also. I stay away from triggers such as repeating patterns, flashing lights or blue lights.”
How is migraine different?
With migraine, we can all have different symptoms, have them occur at different times in our lives and use different methods to treat them. There are so many types. I have migraines all the time (chronic). My son and daughter have them on occasion (episodic). My nephew has ocular migraines that started after having eye surgery due to cancer. What’s important is relieving the symptoms the best we can.
Have others downplayed your migraine pain?