A migraine is a strong and painful headache, and for some it can truly interfere with daily living. One woman shares her experiences with migraines and the various treatments she’s undergone to help.
For years, Lisa Dunn has seen neurologist Dr. Melvin Helm to treat her migraines. She’s suffered from them since she was a pre-teen.
Lisa said, “It fluctuates as far as frequency so I’ve gotten them as much as every other week… I really hit a very low point in my life when I had a headache every single day… Mine is always pain behind one eye and it usually will alter back and forth between my eyes and vomiting, nausea, vomiting.”
Dr. Helm explains the difference between a migraine and a headache.
“Migraine is a a lot more than just having headaches. A migraine comes from the brain, so headache is one symptom that you can have, but you can have also many other neurological symptoms, typically we call that an aura,” said Dr. Helm.
According to the American Migraine Foundation, about a quarter of people who experience a migraine will have an aura.
The doctors said, “Patients often describe flickering lights or zig zag lights, sometimes spots and typically it travels across the vision over several minutes and then after that typically you would have a headache… Migraine typically lasts from one to three days, technically the definition of the duration of a migraine is four to 72 hours, so it’s not a brief headache.”
Dr. Helm said people can take over-the-counter NSAIDS, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, like acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help relieve their migraine pain. There’s also prescription medication that can help.
“The most commonly used medication for treating migraine is called a triptan, and there’s nine different examples of triptans,” explained Dr. Helm.
Lisa commented, “We’ve tried every number of cocktails that have been available… And I do get botox injections for migraine and have been doing that for about five years now.”
Botox is not just used to prevent wrinkles.
Dr. Helm explains, “It prevents the release of proteins from the nerve endings… Those proteins trigger the cascade of migraines symptoms, so the idea is, we block the release of those proteins and therefore we prevent the migraine.”
Lisa said with the combination of over-the-counter medication, Botox, and physical therapy, she is able to fight off migraines regularly, and can go back to living her life.
“It affected every aspect of my life, my kids, my husband, my job, everything. I was very negative and unhappy,” ended Lisa.
If you suspect you may be suffering from migraines, there are various treatments available. Always consult with your doctor.