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Migraine is a word we may have heard often, but we tend to think of it as nothing more than a severe headache. However, people living with migraine are the ones who know the best that migraine attacks are much more than just mere headaches. In fact, in India, women are affected 2-4 times more by migraine-which can also be chronic-than men.
It is a neurological condition that can have far-reaching consequences on all areas of one’s life. While commonly characterized by a pulsing or throbbing pain on one side of the head, migraine is accompanied by debilitating symptoms like sensitivity to sound and light, nausea, vomiting and discomfort.
Migraine attacks are often triggered by hormonal fluctuations, alcohol, caffeine, certain foods, stress, and inconsistent sleep among other things. Despite its adverse effects, there is a lack of awareness, which further leads to misdiagnosis and insufficient treatment. In fact, if proper treatment is adhered to along with making modifications to lifestyle, it allows the required flexibility and preparedness to deal with a migraine attack. Migraine can be both chronic or episodic. Either way, it has a detrimental effect on one’s life.
Also, read: Be careful, your headache could be a migraine!
People suffering from migraine are usually unable to work or function properly during an attack and those who are physically present might not be productive at all. In certain industries, a migraine attack can mean missing out on income, as people suffering from attacks have to skip work frequently.
Migraine is linked to both depression and anxiety. People with migraine are five times more likely to develop depression than individuals who do not suffer from it. Symptoms such as anxiety, stress and fear can play off of migraine symptoms. As patients think about the next attack, it leads to helplessness, and the unpredictability of their symptoms can eventually lead to frustration. All these issues take an overall toll on the quality of life.
Migraine attacks can also cause blindness in one eye for a short period. Such type of migraine is called an ocular migraine, and it happens due to reduced blood flow or spasms of blood vessels in the retina or behind the eye. Though it’s rare, people who have an ocular migraine may have a higher risk of permanent vision loss in one eye.
As per American Migraine Foundation (AMF), migraine affects heart health and increases the risk of heart attacks and heart rhythm disorders. It can also increase the risk of stroke, coronary events, and other related death by almost 50 percent.
Misunderstandings, cancelled plans and care-giving demands on partners can cause a relationship strain. It’s hard to be reliable when a migraine attack can wreck plans at any moment. This, in turn, takes a toll on relationships.
People with migraine need to understand their headache triggers, and learn how to control their condition at the right time. Additionally, the importance of listening to your body cannot be overstated. Patients must know that it is important to consult a neurologist, undertake accurate treatment and adhere to proper treatment procedures in order to lead a happy and healthy life.