"You kids are giving me a migraine!" Ever heard that one? If you grew up in my house, you got to hear my mom mutter that phrase under her breath or yell it at the top of her lungs about once a week. Although my mother had her hands full raising four kids, the good news is that she really never did suffer from actual migraine headaches. The bad news is that nearly 32 million Americans, most of whom are women, are regularly debilitated by the serious health condition known today as Migraine Disease.
What Is a Migraine?
Comparing a headache to a migraine is like comparing a bee sting to a bullet wound," proclaims Anne Fleming, 32, who experienced her first migraine in her mid-teens. Sufferers generally experience intense, throbbing pain on one side of the head that renders them unable to function, unlike typical headaches that manifest themselves in constant pain on both sides.
Migraines can last anywhere from a few hours to several days and are often accompanied by nausea and sensitivity to light and noise. A small number of people experience strange symptoms called auras that include visual disturbances, such as black dots or wavy lines, light flashes, vision loss, or numbness on one side of the body.
According to the American Migraine Prevalence and Prevention Study (AMPP), "Nine out of 10 sufferers report they can't 'function normally' during days in which a migraine strikes, and nearly three in 10 require bed rest. More than 25 percent missed at least one day of work over the past three months due to a migraine, and almost 50 percent report their migraines prevented them from doing household chores."