Migraines no longer have to hold you back from the people, places and things you love most.
For Chastity K., migraines are a family affair.
“My mom used to have them all the time when I was a kid,” she remembers. “She would lock herself in her room with the lights off, and me and my brother had to make sure we played ‘quietly.’ Now that I have migraines, I can sympathize!” Chastity’s started when she hit puberty — although at first she didn’t realize that’s what they were.
“My mom’s migraines would incapacitate her, and made her very sensitive to light and noise, but with me I would become extremely moody, then I would get these strange flashes of light and a dull, throbbing headache would set in around my temples,” she says. “Because my symptoms were so different than my mom’s, I just thought it was hormones!”
Things changed years later, however. At the time Chastity was planning a wedding with her fiance, and they were in the process of buying a house together. Her headaches began to increase in both frequency and severity, and soon she was locking herself in her room with the lights turned off multiple times a week — just like her mom used to.
“Looking back, I think it was the stress,” Chastity says. “About a month before my wedding, I was over at my mom’s to put together the seating charts — my head was pounding! My mom took one look at me and made an appointment with her headache specialist. He’s the one who diagnosed me with Chronic Migraine.”
Chastity’s doctor put her on a preventative medication to treat her migraines, and gave her some methods to better cope with her stress, and now her headaches strike only every few months.
“I’m so glad I worked with my doctor — if I hadn’t, I’d still be inside my bedroom, alone in the dark, instead of living my best life!”
The right treatment can help you, too
Whether you suffer from episodic migraines (the kind that occur on fewer than 15 days per month) or, like Chastity, you have Chronic Migraine (which means you have 15 or more headache days per month for at least three months), partnering with your healthcare provider like she did is key. It’s the best way to find out about the newest treatments and take advantage of the latest research.
In fact, experts are learning more about migraines every day — from just how varied the symptoms can be, to new triggers, to understanding that treating before or at the start of migraine symptoms can make a significant difference in how long and how severe a migraine will be.
In recent years, the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) published guidelines that focused on the prevention of migraines, identifying nearly a dozen effective medications and complementary treatments.
It turns out, nearly 40% of patients could benefit from such preventive therapies, says Stephen D. Silberstein, MD, professor of neurology and director of the Jefferson Headache Center at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.
What you can do
If you’re one of the nearly 37 million Americans who suffer from migraine, now’s your chance to take back control. Start by learning about your headaches — what type you have and what triggers them — and exploring your treatment options.
You’ll get tips and inspiring stories, which will help you get the upper hand, just like Chastity. “Don’t downgrade your symptoms or say you can ‘just live with it,’ ” she implores. “Help is out there — you just have to be willing to find it!”