I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Lundbeck to write about the realities of migraine as a chronic disease. All opinions are my own.
I have been a migraine sufferer for most of my adult life. I developed them in my very early 20s, before I had children. I have been on a wide-variety of treatments over the years – from daily pills to episodic treatment. After having a breast reduction and hysterectomy, my severe headaches are much more infrequent. I still get headaches though fairly regularly.
This is the first in a two-part migraine blog series that I am partnering with Med-IQ on. Med-IQ is an accredited medical education company that provides an exceptional educational experience for physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals. Because migraine has been such a huge part of my story, and because so many people I know also suffer from them, I wanted to use my platform to share about this genetic neurologic disease.
More than 100 different genetic mutations can make an individual vulnerable to migraine. Each person who has migraine has a different combination of genetic mutations. This means that the disease is very individualized and there is no one-size-fits-all treatment option.
That said, healthcare providers have tools for migraine prevention, though treatment is a process of trial and error. In my early 20s, I recall many different variations of medications and supplements trying to get my headaches in check. It was frustrating at times, and I dealt with some side effects in the process. Ultimately though, we did find a good the right treatment for me to live with less pain.
Patient goals for prevention should be to manage the disease by reducing how often migraine attacks occur (their frequency) and how long they last (their duration). It’s important to recognize that prevention strategies don’t cure migraines.
Ways to Help Migraine Sufferers with Prevention
I recently had the opportunity to do a group zoom call with Dr. Amaal J. Starling of Mayo Clinic’s Neurology program to discuss migraines and she offered this mnemonic device of things migraine sufferers can do to help with their prevention strategy (along with medications):
SEEDS for success:
Sleep hygiene: Get enough sleep each night
Exercise regularly: 20-30 minutes each day (2-3 times a week of aerobic exercise)
Eat regular heathy meals: Eat throughout the day, as peaks and valleys in blood sugar levels can trigger migraine attacks
Drink water to prevent dehydration
Stress management: Use evidence-based migraine prevention techniques like biofeedback, muscle relaxation, and mindfulness
If you suffer from a lot of headaches, definitely talk with your primary care physician. He or she might be able to prescribe medication to help or refer you to a board-certified headache specialist. Be sure to come to your appointment ready to describe your symptoms and frequency of headaches — both “regular” and severe.
Shockingly, it is estimated that 75% of people with episodic migraine are not being treated with standard-of-care (getting their doctors to recommend the proper treatments). Please get help if you need it.
Can You Help?
Med-IQ is conducting an anonymous survey and would appreciate your input. The survey will take just a few minutes to complete. Survey responses are shared only in aggregate. Your responses to these survey questions will provide Med-IQ with important information about the challenges you have experienced with diagnosing and treating migraine, which will help us develop future educational initiatives. Once you complete the survey, you will have the option of providing your email address to be entered into a drawing administered by SOMA Strategies to win 1 of 10 $100 VISA gift cards. If you choose to enter, your email address will be used to randomly draw the winners and notify you of your prize if you win. Click here to take the survey.