Migraine Awareness 101

By Erin Cassidy
6/26/2013 9:37:25 AM

Many people don't understand the severity of migraines, and how a person can become completely debilitated by its symptoms. If you do suffer from migraines, you are more than familiar with the physical toll it takes and the havoc it can create in your everyday life.

During Migraine Awareness Week, it is important to promote the often misunderstood notion of migraines and help create awareness for sufferers and the treatments medical advancements have provided. The National Headache Foundation supports these efforts with their "Show Purple" campaign which encourages advocates to wear purple in June, Migraine & Headache Awareness Month. Created in 1989, Dr. Seymour Diamond, Executive Chairman and Founder of the National Headache Foundation explained, "[With Migraine Awareness] we hope to further public awareness of the economic and personal impact and disability due to chronic migraine and other headaches disorder. For the individual experiencing chronic headaches, we hope to educate them that help is available for their problem."

Credit: National Headache Foundation

A migraine are believed to be a chemical reaction in the brain that is triggered by a variety of stimuli (e.g. alcohol, bright lights), or become active spontaneously (even during sleep), leading to attacks.

There are several identifiable characteristics that can help you determine whether you suffer from migraines. If you regularly suffer from two or more of these symptoms, you should consult your doctor:

- A headache that is moderately or severely painful

- A headache that worsens with physical activity

- A headache that can be described as "throbbing," often can feel worse on one side of your head

- A headache that causes you to call in sick to work or withdraw from other daily activities

- Increased sensitivity to light, sounds or smells during the headache

- A headache that lasts longer than four hours

Photo courtesy of Flickr / Official U.S. Navy Imagery

If you do suffer from migraines, you may be aware of certain "triggers" you have. Although it is not yet understood why a migraine sufferer's brain reacts differently to these triggers, it is known they may have sensitivity to certain factors that raise their risk of experiencing a migraine episode. These prompts can include: hormonal fluctuations, external stimuli like weather or bright lights, certain smells, alcohol, particular foods, poor sleep and high stress situations. However, for some migraine sufferers there is no discernible trigger for their symptoms.

Along with the many advocacy groups for Migraine Awareness, AccuWeather is proud to support a week for Migraine Awareness and will feature articles and general information to help educate the public and support sufferers for this debilitating condition. Dr. Diamond says, "If headaches disabled you in any way or prevented participation in daily activities (work, school, family or social), we want them to seek help of these problems. They must be assured that help is available." For more information, visit www.headaches.org to see what services National Headache Foundation offers.