More than three-quarters of all migraines are suffered by women, says Marla Ahlgrimm. In the following brief Q&A, the retired women’s health center entrepreneur and compounding pharmacist shares insight on these debilitating headaches.
Q: Is it migraine more than a headache?
Marla Ahlgrimm: The vast majority of headaches are mild to moderate and go away on their own. Migraines, by contrast, can be very severe. People with migraines suffer with unusually intense throbbing pain, light sensitivity, and often, nausea. It is not uncommon to see spots or experience an acute loss of vision during a severe migraine attack.
Q: Who is at risk for migraines?
Marla Ahlgrimm: There are nearly 30 million Americans that suffer with migraines. While people of all ages, sexes, and family histories experience migraines, they are most common in women between the ages of 15 and 55. It is suspected that hormones play a role triggering and quelling migraines since they tend to start at the onset of puberty and become less severe with age.
Q: Aside from hormones, what causes migraine headaches?
Marla Ahlgrimm: Migraines can be caused by any number of issues including poor sleep habits, and unhealthy diet, exposure to strong odors, loud noises, bright light, and stress and anxiety. Alcohol, caffeine, and aspartame have all been linked to migraines.
Q: What are the different types of migraine?
Marla Ahlgrimm: There are two primary classifications, migraine with aura and migraine without aura. The former involves flashing lights and a disturbed sense of touch, taste, or smell while the latter may experience the same amount of pain and throbbing without the sensory symptoms. While migraines can be subjectively moderate to severe, they can usually be distinguished from a tension headache by severity. A tension headache may be slightly distracting but not to the point of disrupting a person’s daily routine. A migraine, by contrast, can completely debilitate a sufferer’s ability to function.