Migraine: Not Your Typical Headache


I’ve been suffering from migraine headaches since I was 14 years old. The first time I had an attack I was in chorus at school and suddenly lost a good part of my vision. I was concerned and started to feel sick so I went to see the school nurse. We didn’t know it was a migraine until I was in the car with my mom a little while later and that weird feeling had progressed into the greatest pain I had ever experienced. A migraine isn’t your average headache, and for those who have never experienced it before, it can be difficult to explain exactly what it feels like. Yes, there is a blinding (literally, blinding), effect that this specific headache has, along with nausea, disorientation, and chills. Not everyone experiences them in the same way. For example, I have what is called migraine with aura. All this means is that the headache has an affect on my ability to see. Of course I wanted to know why this was happening to me, and if there was anything I could do about it. The sad thing for people who suffer from migraines is that there isn’t a whole lot out there that explains where the attacks come from and why (aka the mechanism). There are a few theories that I’ve heard and read about:


  1. Food Triggers (this word “trigger” is common jargon in the migraine world). These include things like red wine, cheese, and chocolate, for example.
  2. Stress. 
  3. Menstruation. It has been speculated (key word: speculated) that migraine headaches could be triggered by hormonal changes in the body. Websites like Migraine Trust  go into more detail about the specific hormones that have been attributed to migraine headaches. Most websites I’ve visited mention something about how it’s way more likely for a woman to suffer a migraine than a man, so maybe science is on the right track in investigating hormonal changes in women.

Of course there are other theories out there about why migraines are caused. MedlinePLus explains how migraines were thought to be caused by constriction of the blood vessels in the brain. Now doctors are looking to genes for an explanation.

Treatment Options

I am fortunate that I don’t have chronic migraines. These people can suffer multiple attacks a week, whereas I usually get one or two a year if I’m lucky. People always tell me to take Advil, eat some food, take a nap, etc. What people fail to realize is that for many people there is no way to ward off a migraine, and your typical “get rid of my headache” methods will DEFINITELY NOT WORK. For me, once I start to lose my vision and feeling in my feet and hands, it’s already too late. Migraine “prevention” has to come from weeks of taking care of my body and hoping that the migraines will stay away.

There is hope though! There are tons of over the counter medications like Excedrin that can help some people with Migraine (not me, unfortunately). If that doesn’t work, there are plenty of migraine specialists out there that you can work with and even be prescribed something a little stronger to help fight off a migraine. I can’t remember the name of the medicine (something with a T?), but I actually got an injection into the stomach one time that dulled the pain a little bit. If I decided to be a doctor or a scientist, I think that I would definitely go into researching migraines. It’s fascinating to me that there is so little information out there, and so far, no cure. 🙁

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5 thoughts on “Migraine: Not Your Typical Headache

  1. Alyssa Marie Frey

    I also started getting migraines in middle school and the first time I got one was quite terrifying. I first feel as though I am in a dream-like state and I get numbness in several parts of my body. The worst part about my migraines are they seem to come at random times and don’t have a specific trigger. One time I got one during my Birthday dinner with my family which couldn’t have been a worse time. For me, I have to take medication and take a long nap for it to go away when I wake up. I too wish there were a cure for them, especially for people who get them on a daily basis.

  2. Dana Corinne Pirrotta

    I am so excited to read a post from someone else who has migraines! I get so frustrated when other people complain about getting “migraines” because they consider any sort of painful headache a migraine.
    My migraines are normally triggered by something hormonal, or are stress related. I know one is going to hit when my fingers fall asleep, and my face becomes paralyzed. From there on, my tongue swells up so I can’t communicate, and big white dots completely cloud my vision so I can’t see a thing. It is such a horrible experience and I love that we can bond over it. I always have an emergency supply of gatorade, coffee, and saltines for when they hit. Let me know if you have any other tips to make them more bearable. Although they are extremely painful, I do think it is interesting that everyone has a very unique form of migraine.

    – Dana

  3. Jeremy Perdomo

    Migraines and headaches are not the same things? All my life, I have assumed that the word “migraine” was synonymous with the word “headache,” but I am genuinely intrigued that it is not; I feel like my life has been a lie up to this point! And whats more is that there are migraines with specific concentrations, such as the aura (blinding) migraine that you mentioned? Now I just feel lucky that I have only offered from headaches!

    Now, you listed certain theories as to why migraines occur in the human body, such as being hungry or menstruation cycles in woman; but, is it possible that migraines are associated with genetics and familial history? For example, my mother is consistently getting migraines and headaches, and when I ask her why she always gets them in abundance, she claims that her father and mother got them often in their earlier years, as well. This one example might not be sufficient enough to formulate a statement of fact, but it is definitely cause to create a hypothesis saying that headaches might be linked to the family tree. As a matter of fact, James Chapman (the author of the article down below), seems to have done research that is consistent with my hypothesis; doctors have found a gene that is linked with migraines!


    Furthermore, the article goes into detail how Doctor Palotie looked at the genetic markers of fifty different families that had a minimum of three people that expresses the gene, and came to the conclusion that there is a marker on “chromosome four” that links to migraines. That means that if you express the marker, you have a higher probability of suffering from the disorder than the average person; good luck with that!

  4. Justine Arlexandra Cardone

    I saw the title of this and knew I had to read it! I myself get migraine with aura and no one can ever seem to figure out why I get them! I also get chronic tension headaches so i have those every single day and have to take medicine for them. I don’t have chronic migraines however, and only get them about 5 times a year! Whenever my vision gets blurry I know that I’m about to get a migraine and it is the worst feeling! I never knew that so many foods could trigger migraines and think thats interesting (especially because I drink so much coffee). It also bothers me so much that there is little research and no cure since migraines and headaches effect so many people!!

  5. Olivia Mei Zhang

    I’ve never really been one to get awful migraines, but I’m sorry to hear you do! I can definitely reason with the mechanisms that you listed- stress always leads to headaches and pain internally and externally. It’s no surprise that migraines is another. Perhaps there are other outside variables that cause migraines (confounding variables): medical history, medical history within the family, certain activities, or environmental conditions.

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