How many times have you pushed through the pain of not feeling well, maybe even told yourself it’s all in your head or “it’s just a headache”?
Total transparency, I’m typing this up while pushing through a sudden summer illness (and waiting for a COVID test result). I’ve spent most of the last few days trying to talk myself out of feeling bad because it’s just a REALLY inconvenient time, you know?
If you’re a woman, I’m betting you really do know, especially if you’re a woman who experiences frequent headaches and migraines.
I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Allergan to write about the realities of migraine as a neurologic disease. All opinions are my own. Make sure you don’t miss the survey link at the bottom of this post. After completing it, you can enter to win one of 10 $100 Visa Gift Cards. More below.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), migraine affects 1 out of 7 Americans annually and is a leading cause of outpatient and emergency department visits, particularly among women during their reproductive years, typically between the ages of 18 and 44.
That includes basically this blog’s entire demographic. And knowing what I know about life as a woman, it’s not unbelievable that many women would shrug a migraine off as “just a headache” because we have been conditioned to minimize our own pain.
That’s a big reason why I wanted to work with Med-IQ to help generate awareness around migraine symptoms and treatment. Even though I don’t personally experience migraines, I can relate to the internal stigma around seeking help for illness and pain when we would rather convince ourselves it’s all in our heads or not bad enough to get treatment.
Med-IQ is an accredited medical education company that provides an exceptional educational experience for physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals.
If that’s the case, it’s really important that you don’t shrug it off as “just a headache” and instead understand that migraine is a neurological genetic disease that often requires a prescription. No amount of minimizing your pain and putting off asking for help is going to make it better.
Granted, not all migraine sufferers are the same and treatment options will vary, but what doctors agree on is it’s important to track your symptoms and triggers so they can help you come up with the best individualized treatment plan for you. A diary of your symptoms and when your headaches occur is a great place to start.
I had the opportunity to sit in on a call with Dr. Jessica Ailani, Director of the MedStar Georgetown Headache Center and Professor of Clinical Neurology at Georgetown University Hospital, and Dr. Amaal J. Starling, Associate Professor of Neurology and Consultant, Department of Neurology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science. They both recommended the following treatment path if you think you’re experiencing migraines:
The final piece of this is to take all of this information, and empower yourself to advocate for your health. By tracking your symptoms, recognizing when your migraines are more than “just a headache” you can help your health provider help you better.
As someone who’s had to quiet my own internal voice that stigmatizes and minimizes my pain in order to advocate for myself, I know that part can be the hardest.
If after reading this, you recognize that you may be dealing with migraines, I hope you know I’m here cheering you on. On the other side of the really hard part is help. I hope you get it. You deserve it.
Med-IQ is conducting an anonymous survey and would appreciate your input. The survey will take less than 15 minutes to complete. Survey responses are shared only in aggregate. Your responses to these survey questions will provide Med-IQ with important information about your experiences with migraine and related care, which will help us develop future educational initiatives in this area. Once you’ve completed 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 only to randomly draw the winners and notify them of their prize.
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