I hopped off a 6-hour flight to San Francisco and immediately felt the weight of the world sitting impatiently on my head waiting for my attention. I also must add that before this San Fran trip, I was in New York for two days. I haven’t been home for a week and I am back out on the road again heading to Miami for a 3-day cruise. Some may say I’m “busy, booked, and blessed” (there is a hashtag for this btw), but I am borderline stressed out and that can cause me to feel a migraine inching into my temples. I almost didn’t want to call out the name because that’s how crippling migraines can be. As someone who experiences migraines from time to time, I was surprised to learn that some people experience headaches over half of the month or more and the condition has a name too — Chronic Migraine. It is defined as at least 8 migraine days per month, and a total of 15 or more headache days per month. Chronic Migraine is nothing to play with so this post is dedicated to giving you a little information about the symptoms and potential ways to cope.
So why do people even get migraines?
- One contributing factor may be skipping meals. This is me! I usually have to make myself eat breakfast. I’m one of those people who doesn’t wake up hungry. I am so envious of my husband because as soon as he gets up he’s in the kitchen cooking up something to help start his day. Me? Still in the bed. But it never fails. When I don’t eat something first thing in the morning and I jump right into my work day, it’s usually 1 pm before I realize that I’m starving. Often, that’s when my migraine shows up! How many mornings has this happened to you? A migraine may also be triggered if your body is experiencing caffeine withdrawal or you’ve had too much alcohol.
- Studies also suggest that it could be genetics. If a family member or a close relative has a history of migraines, there’s a chance you might too.
- Changes in air pressure, humidity, and temperature may also trigger migraines for some individuals.
- Sometimes, when I get off a plane, it feels like a drum has exploded in my ears and I can feel a migraine coming on.
- Sleep – too much or not enough – may trigger a migraine. From time to time when I stay up late, I will wake up with a migraine in the morning.
- And of course, the one everyone is most familiar with is stress. Feeling overwhelmed and taking on too much can lead to stress which can cause migraines.
How are headaches different from migraines?
Great question, and I am so glad you’ve asked (LOL). In the days of WebMD we are so used to self-diagnosing ourselves but there really is a true difference between a headache and a migraine.
The dull pain experienced across your head is generally mild to moderate and can sometimes last for days but more commonly a few hours. A migraine is an entirely different beast. It can range from moderate to very severe throbbing pain at the front or side of your head. It can also relentlessly carry on for multiple days and is often accompanied by other disabling symptoms such as visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and extreme sensitivity to sound, light, touch, and smell.
When I have a migraine, I start to see colored spots and ‘stars’. Some people may experience wavy or jagged lines or flashing lights. Right after, I am usually wildly annoyed by any kind of light and I have to seek shelter in a dark room.
Chronic Migraine is a distinct disease where patients have 15 or more headache days per month, with headaches lasting four hours each day or longer and at least eight of those headache days being associated with a migraine. Although Chronic Migraine occurs in both men and women, women are three times more likely than men to be impacted by migraines.
I know we are used to smiling through the pain. Especially Black women. Since it’s 2019, I want us to enjoy every bit of this new year. I am promising to take some time for myself. I am going to slow down and enjoy the little wins as much as the big ones. And I’m going to finally get on a sleep schedule.
I challenge you to do something for yourself if you’re experiencing frequent migraines. If you think you may have Chronic Migraine, I encourage you to visit a doctor (find a specialist here). You can also find more information at mychronicmigraine.com.
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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Allergan. Thanks for supporting the brands that make my blog possible!