As a Migraine sufferer, I’ve been asking this question for years. After experiencing countless medications, therapies, tests, hospitalizations, and supplements, I still don’t claim to have the complete answer; I do have some interesting ideas to share with you though. First, anything I say here is strictly suggestive information and is not to replace the professional advice of your health care provider. Be responsible and do the research for yourself.
Migraine statistics: How many?
According to the WebMD site, “Over a lifetime, only 1% of us escape headaches altogether. Over a year, it is estimated that 90% of the population get at least one headache. About 16-17% of the population get a migraine headache sometime in their life – that means over a billion people worldwide at some point get migraine. The World Health Organization estimated in 2003 that 303 million people worldwide were migraine sufferers. A 2004 article suggested that there are almost 20 million migraine attacks happening every day.”
Another recent study showed that migraine attacks have increased by 60% since the 80’s. This is an astounding number that definitely suggests that it might be something that we are doing or are exposed to that we weren’t in the past. This statistic is most likely inaccurate because migraine diagnoses is much lower than the number of people who suffer. Many never seek medical help or simply write off the attacks as sinus headaches.
Migraine statistics: Who?
Factually, 25% of women suffer from migraine, a large difference from the 8% of men who get migraine headaches sometime in their lifetime. Though most suffer migraine between the ages of 25 and 50, some get their first headache before the age of 15. Interestingly, my entire family has experienced some form of migraine before the age of 10. This isn’t a surprise; according to the KidsHealth.org, “up to 10% of children between 5 and 15 may experience migraine. Before puberty, girls and boys are almost equal in the migraines they suffer, possibly due to the estrogen changes that women go through at various stages in life. About 70% have some other close (first degree) relative with migraine.”
Women and Stress
Obviously, we are made differently than our testosterone-filled counterparts. Naturally more sensitive, we feel everything. We have a tendency to internalize problems and conflicts, forgetting to nurture ourselves as we do our families. In addition, many women deal with far more stress than men do. With children, careers, elderly parents, and households to run, life has filled our days with mind-blowing responsibility. Even young girls can carry more concern for their grades, popularity, and appearance than boys of their same age do.
Women and Societal Changes
I have also often wondered if our sensitivities and hormonal differences are causing us to respond to societal changes, technology, and food additives differently than men do. Think about all the new things that have bombarded our air, food, and water. Take cellular phones for instance, how many people do you know that don’t own one? I know, when I am on the phone for an extended period, I get a headache. There are products out there that are supposed to combat the EMF (Electro-magnetic Fields) that these devices omit. Are we hurting ourselves when we gab? Are women simply talking on the phone more than men are? Likely.
Women and Weight
Another culprit could possibly be our obsession with weight. Inappropriate diets, pills, energy drinks, caffeine, skipping meals, and overzealous workouts are becoming the norm for millions of women worldwide. Instead of learning how to eat naturally healthy foods in the right portions, we are seeking out these damaging alternatives. Any one of those things could cause ongoing migraine problems. We must find a way to balance this important area of our lives in order to obtain true health and lesson the likelihood of getting migraine.
Migraine and Hormones
About 50% of women report that their periods trigger migraine episodes. If hormonal changes during our monthly cycles truly cause headaches than that alone could be the main reason that more women get migraine. However, I don’t believe that we have to have such drastic fluctuations. Products like progesterone creams, wild yam supplements, and estrogen balancing formulas are all natural remedies that can help you stay hormonally healthy. If you have been diagnosed with PMDD, you may also have more severe symptoms during your menses. Talk to your doctor about treatment options.
Think about all the products that women use on a daily basis. You’ve got face creams, deodorant, hair spray, make-up, shampoo, conditioner, nail polish, etc., most of which are toxic to us on a biological level. We use these “necessary” items without thought to the possible threat they pose to our health. We can be proactive in changing this problem for good.
Seek out organic cosmetics and hair products as alternatives to your current lines. Try Aveda, Origins, Burt’s Bees, Grass Roots, Purology, Jason; all of these are affordable and available at either salons, health food stores, or your local department store. Next time you visit your hair salon, ask you stylist to recommend organic hair-care products. It may not solve the migraine problem completely, but it can’t hurt.
Migraine Dos and Don’ts
- Don’t wait too long to treat a headache. Migraine can actually cause an increase of neurological pain pathways when left untreated.
- Don’t start or stop any migraine treatment protocols without discussing it with your doctor first.
- Do learn about alternatives to mainstream medications; such as, Biofeedback, Magnetic Therapy, Chiropractic, Cranial Sacral work, Massage Therapy, Colon Hydrotherapy, organ detoxifying, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), and Brain Entrainment.
- Don’t be afraid to try new medications. Even if you have had no success with past meds, keep an open mind about new treatments.
- Do stick with what works for you. It takes some years to figure out what meds, combination of meds, natural therapies, and other remedies nix their pain and migraine symptoms.
- Don’t assume that those around you understand what you are going through. Take the time to educate them about migraine.
- Don’t give up on finding a cure for your migraine. It could be as simple as an allergy.
- Do seek out others who suffer from migraine. The support and understanding is invaluable.
- Do keep a diary to learn which foods and activities cause your headaches.