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Migraine Awareness Month Interview with the Experts Part 1

Have the wacky weather changes lately driven you to a dark room and a pillow? They certainly do me in at times and my solutions include exactly that, hiding in my room with total quiet, total dark and the hopes that sleeping it off will work.

Sometimes that isn’t enough and for some it’s almost never enough. That’s why when I got the opportunity to interview Dr. Shapero, for Migraine Awareness Month about this very problem, I was intrigued. I have friends who have suffered (and some who in fact still do suffer) from chronic migraines and it is awful, my heart goes out to them. Learning more about them and how they can be dealt with I hope helps!

1. What are some of the common signs/triggers that a migraine is approaching that we should be aware of and why?

Changes in vision or hearing, called aura, may be present and come just before or just as the migraine begins. Some individuals have cravings for particular foods or excessive yawning, fatigue or agitation in what is sometimes referred to as the prodrome stage of migraine. This stage may precede the migraine attack by several hours.

 A recent survey found the most common triggers of Chronic Migraine include: stress (77 per cent), sleep issues (63 per cent), changes in weather (53 per cent) and bright or flickering lights (52 per cent).

Other common triggers are:

·         Physical exertion or activity

·         Hormonal changes (in women)

·         Skipping meals

·         Perfume or odour

·         Neck pain

·         Alcohol

·         Smoke

·         Heat

·         Food/diet

 2. What is actually happening in our heads during a migraine? And how do you discern a regular headache from a migraine?

During a migraine attack, there is a complicated interaction between the nerves and blood vessels in what is called the trigeminal neurovascular system which results in a dilation of the blood vessels, a release of sensory neuropeptides, such as substance P and CGRP, which then causes irritation of the nerves in that region and a transmission of that nerve irritation back to the brain resulting in a severe headache. Migraine is a specific type of headache with pain that can last anywhere from 4 hours up to 3 days.

·         Pain is usually moderately to severely intense, throbbing or pulsating, and often occurring on one side of the head.

·         Can be accompanied by nausea and/or vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.

·         Can become aggravated (get worse) by routine physical activity (e.g., walking or climbing stairs).

·         Changes in vision or hearing, called aura, may be present and come just before or just as the migraine begins.

 An individual may be considered to be suffering from chronic migraine when he or she has headaches occurring 15 or more days per month of which 8 days or more have features of migraine, as described, for at least 3 months.

3.  At what point should a patient go see a doctor about this?

If headaches are present on more than one to 2 days per week and are not relieved by typical over-the-counter pain medications or if there are any unusual neurological events such as a loss of vision, confusion, altered sensation, or other neurological deficits, then individuals should either see their family physician or head to the nearest emergency department.

 There may be many people out there that have Chronic Migraine but have yet to be diagnosed. Speak with a headache specialist.

If you think that you may have Chronic Migraine, you can visit http://www.mychronicmigraine.ca to download a simple-to-use migraine diary to record details of your migraine attacks to share with the doctor.

Once your condition has been diagnosed, there are many different treatment options available.

4.       Are there things we can do when we feel one coming on to lessen the impact on ourselves, our work and families?

Have a plan of action. Know what medications you are planning to take and take them early into the migraine attack. Find a quiet and dark place to rest.

 5.  Do you have tips for shortening the length of them?

While there is no cure for Chronic Migraine, there are different types of treatment strategies or medications to manage migraine.  It’s important for patients to talk to a doctor who has expertise in treating and diagnosing headaches to find out how acute, preventive and alternative treatments may benefit their type of migraine.

6.  What age group are you finding is most commonly affected by migraines? Why do you think that is?

Women are more commonly affected than men by a ratio of 3-1. Adults from 20-50, in the most productive years of their life, tend to be most commonly affected.

7.  If you could give one message to sufferers, what would it be?

If you have Chronic Migraine, you don’t need to suffer in silence. There are treatments and support available to help you manage your condition and more fully participate in and enjoy important life events. Talk to your family physician and potentially have a referral to a neurologist or headache specialist.

Thank you Dr. Shapero!

Now for a bonus for you all! As part of Migraine Awareness Month I am having a giveaway for a “Chronic Migraine Survival Kit” valued at over $200, including a sleep mask, herbal teas and a massage pad among other items that can be used to prevent the onset of migraines!

Migraine Awareness Month

To enter simply leave a comment below. For a bonus second entry, like Nonmom on Facebook too and make sure you tell me who to look for to verify we’re FB buds!

Open to Canadians only, contest opens now and closes Monday May 20th at midnight EST. Good luck!!!


5 Responses

  1. I just started getting migraines about 3 years ago, Lucky for me they don’t happen very often. Would love to win this, thanks for the giveaway.

  2. liked Nonmom on Facebook
    angela marriott

  3. Thank you for the wonderful and informative post today! I sometimes wonder if I just have a headache or if I do get migraines occasionally. I found when living in Calgary that when a Chinook would roll in my headaches would be unbearable due to the extreme and fast change in barometric pressure.

  4. […] part of this series for Migraine Awareness Month I am also having a giveaway as mentioned in Part 1 of this interview with Dr. Shapero. You can also enter by doing the same […]

  5. I wrote this a few years back, and just reposted it on my blog. I went into a bit more detail on your part 2 but wanted to share this with you, and anyone else

    Thanks for sharing your post too!

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