There is no condition of such magnitude that is as shrouded in myth, misinformation, and mistreatment as is this condition [Migraine], and there are few conditions which are as disabling during the acute attack.
More people died from Migrainous Stroke last year than were murdered with handguns.
Migraine is disease, a headache is only a symptom. Migraine pain is caused by expansion of the blood vessels, while headache pain is caused by narrowing of the blood vessels. During a migraine, inflammation of the tissue surrounding the brain exacerbates the pain. Therefore, medicine often prescribed to treat a headache, such as beta-blockers, dilate the blood vessels and therefore can make a Migraine worse.
Unlike a headache, the Migraine disease has many symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, auras (light spots), sensitivity to light and sound and smell, numbness, difficulty in speech, and severe semihemispherical head pain. One Migraine attack alone can last for eight hours, several days, or even weeks.
Migraine is a genetically-based disease.
A Migraine is induced by various controllable and uncontrollable triggers. Uncontrollable :weather patterns and menstrual cycles. Controllable: bright light, aspertame, and alcohol. This list is not exhaustive. The severity and frequency of Migraines for one person depends upon how many triggers an individual must experience before a Migraine is induced. The combination of triggers is different for each person.
Migraine is a true organic neurological disease. "Migraine is absolutely a biologically-based disorder with the same validity as other medical disorders including hypertension, angina, asthma, epilepsy, etc. Unfortunately, there have been many myths perpetrated in regard to this disorder. The most destructive of which are 'It is all in your head,' 'You have to learn to live with it,' and 'Stress is the major cause.'"
Misdiagnosis of Migraine as a psychological disorder can lead to a doctor prescribing unnecessary, counterproductive, and even dangerous medication. It is common for a Migraineur to be diagnosed, for example, with clinical depression and prescribed unnecessary drugs, leaving the Migraines unaffected. The continued presence of the Migraines may lead the doctor to believe that the Migraineur is unable to "handle" problems and is still "depressed", leading to continued unnecessary drug treatment ... and so on.
Migraine can induce a host of serious physical conditions: strokes, aneurysms, permanent visual loss, severe dental problems, coma and even death.
Not only can the Migraine disease be life threatening, but it can have a devastating and disruptive effect on normal living. Migraine sufferers experience not only excruciating pain, but social ostracism, job loss, disruption to personal relationships, and prejudices in the workplace.
Oftentimes people think that those with Migraines just can't handle life, or, in reality, are drug addicts or alcoholics. Such perception can be formed when, for example, people see a Migraineur wearing sun glasses indoors (photo sensitive), lying in a dark and silent room (photo and sound sensitive), making frequent trips to the rest room (nausea and vomiting), leaving early, working late, slurred speech, all what they may think is erratic behavior. According to Dr. Sheftell, "Historically, patients with the most intractable Migraines experience a downward spiral in terms of income and contributions to society at large."
In fact, 60% of women and 70% of men with Migraine have never been diagnosed with this disease. This medical ignorance and corresponding inaccurate writings unfortunately perpetuate the myths and misunderstandings about Migraine and convey this to the general public.
Migraine sufferers must not only cope with their pain, but also with society's misunderstanding of the disorder. Migraineurs are frequently dismissed as neurotic complainers who are unable to handle stress. The truth is that they frequently battle against great odds in order to hold down jobs and support families ... Young Migraine sufferers sometimes miss enough school so that they are unable to graduate with their peers.
In addition to misdiagnosis and under-diagnosis, Migraine sufferers will bear the brunt of discriminatory policies by a variety of health care agencies. Such agencies may deny reimbursement for emergency room visits and for hospitalizations for the most severe sufferers. It is not uncommon for doctors to think that a Migraine sufferer is in the emergency room to receive drugs, and dangerously turn them away.
shamelessly lifted and slightly altered from http://www.migraines.org/