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Migraine Connections: Migraine and Middle Age

By Lauren Koblara

Some say it’s like an ice-pick in your eye or a vice at the nape of your neck, but no matter how you describe them, when you have one, a migraine is unmistakable. If you’re one of the 29.5 million people in America who suffer from migraines, you know how severe and debilitating these “headaches” can be. You understand that in addition to the excruciating head and neck pain comes nausea, extreme sensitivity to light and sound, often clumsiness and a difficulty “thinking straight.” But you may not know how they can change and evolve as we age and that our chronic migraines can be indicators of health problems to come.

Migraine in Women over 50

According to the National Headache Foundation, women suffer from migraines three times more often than men. Many women who suffer from migraines find relief after menopause, as if they were suddenly “cured” of the syndrome due to the differing hormone levels. There are, however, about 10% who find that their migraines worsen during and after menopause and in these cases the symptoms can become more severe and be more resistant to treatments and medicines.

Menopausal migraines can also be made worse by interrupted sleep habits. Since many women going through menopause can experience night sweats, hot flashes, and general discomfort during the night, it can be very difficult to get a good night’s sleep. The lack of restorative sleep and changes to your circadian rhythms, compounded by the fluctuating and erratic hormone levels, are a migraine sufferer’s recipe for disaster.

A new study published by the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle might show the only bright side to migraine. According to the study, women with chronic migraine have 30% less risk of developing breast cancer than women who don’t have a history of migraine.

Migraine and Men’s Health

Although men are less likely to suffer from chronic migraines, those who do should be aware of some of the health risks that are connected to the syndrome. According to the Physician’s Health Study, middle aged men with a history of migraine have 42% increased risk of heart attack and 24% increase in risk of other heart and stroke events.

Because of this correlation, it is important for men with migraine to do their best to avoid other mitigating health factors. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, smoking and diabetes are all contributors to cardiovascular disease. Regular screenings along with maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help to lessen your risk.

Treatment and Relief

As any migraine sufferer will tell you, relief can not come fast enough. Thanks to ongoing research into causes and treatment of migraines, there are many different options from which to choose.

Medications are the most effective and most common choice of treatment among migraine sufferers. While over the counter pills like ibuprofen or aspirin can be effective for less severe migraines, prescription drugs like Triptans are the typical treatments for the more intense attacks. There are some lesser known preventative drugs on the market that may decrease the frequency and severity of your migraines. Talking with your doctor can help you decide what plan of action is best for you.

In conjunction with medications, many people find additional benefits to taking an holistic approach to treatment. Acupuncture, regular massage, biofeedback, and chiropractic visits have also been said to house some relief. Healthy diet and aerobic exercise are not only a great supplement to migraine treatment, but can do nothing but good things for your health.

Migraine Expressions

It’s always difficult to explain a migraine to someone who has never had one. Some people think that migraine is synonymous with headache. It can be frustrating to feel that others can’t relate to or downgrade the severity of these migraine “headaches.” If you or someone you’re close to has chronic migraine and you are looking to bridge that gap in understanding, you should check out the latest publication from Word Metro Press.

Migraine Expressions is a collection of artwork, poetry, and essays from migraine sufferers around the country. The book helps to raise awareness and stress the importance of migraine research, while also bringing a sense of connection to migraine sufferers everywhere.

You can preview pages and order Migraine Expressions at

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