Many people might categorise migraine simply as a ‘bad headache’. However, the symptoms can often vary from person to person, and may sometimes not even involve a headache at all.

In this post, we’ve put together a quiz to help dispel some of the more common misconceptions around migraines, and provide some helpful fact-based info.

Question 1: Migraines only occur in adults.

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Unfortunately, your answer is incorrect.

Children can be diagnosed with migraines. Many people often experience their first migraine episode around the age of puberty. It is thought that this could be due to the changes in hormone levels in the body around this time.

Question 2: It’s possible to grow out of having migraines.

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Unfortunately, your answer is incorrect.

The nature of migraines is not fully understood but it is thought that hormones often play a part in the triggering episodes.

Hormone levels fluctuate throughout our lives for various reasons. Therefore it is possible to experience migraines during puberty but eventually stop having episodes altogether, or notice a decrease in the number of episodes you experience, as you get older.

Question 3: Migraines always cause headaches.

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Unfortunately, your answer is incorrect.

Headaches are a very common symptom of migraines but not everyone who has migraines will experience a headache. A migraine without a headache is referred to as a ‘silent migraine’.

When a migraine does cause a headache, this is usually characterised by a throbbing pain in one area of the head.

Question 4: Migraines can affect which contraceptive pill you use.

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The combined oral contraceptive pill may not be suitable for those women who experience migraines with symptoms or aura. This is because there is a small increase in the risk of stroke.

There are alternative contraceptive methods that are better suited for women who have migraines with aura, such as the progesterone-only pill (or mini pill), and obviously non-hormonal options such as barrier contraception.

Question 5: Women are more commonly diagnosed with migraine then men.

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Unfortunately, your answer is incorrect.

Both men and women can be diagnosed with migraines. Approximately the same number of boys and girls are affected by migraines up until puberty. After puberty more women are diagnosed with migraines than men.

According to the NHS, roughly one in five women are affected by migraine, compared to one in fifteen men.

Question 6: Migraines are not a recognised illness in the workplace.

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Those who experience migraines may find it difficult to explain their symptoms to their boss or a colleague, but migraines are a chronic illness with debilitating consequences for many people who experience them.

Therefore they should be treated as any other chronic illness by employers. Migraines received comprehensive classification in 1988 by the International Headache Society (IHS).

Question 7: Migraines are only triggered by stress.

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Unfortunately, your answer is incorrect.

A migraine can be triggered by numerous factors, and each migraineur may have a different trigger or set of triggers.

Common migraine triggers include:

  • stress
  • tiredness
  • certain foods or drinks
  • hormonal changes, such as those which occur the start of a period
  • and environmental factors, such as humidity and loud noises.

The reason why someone is prone to migraines may be linked to their genetic makeup, but not enough is known about this area of the condition.

It may be possible to identify migraine triggers by keeping a migraine diary and making a note of the following:

  • the date and time of the migraine
  • symptoms
  • how long the migraine lasted for
  • any medication used
  • what you were doing before or when the migraine started
  • how you had been feeling before the migraine occurred

Question 8: Migraines can cause numerous symptoms, not just headache.

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Unfortunately, your answer is incorrect.

A migraine episode can result in a number of different symptoms, the most common being a headache.

But other common symptoms might include:

  • vision changes (such as zig-zag lines or black spots in vision)
  • pins and needles
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • photosensitivity (being sensitive to light)
  • aura
  • vomiting
  • disorientation
  • sweating
  • and phonosensitivity (being sensitive to sound)

The severity and duration of symptoms can vary greatly from person to person. You should speak to your doctor about your migraines if they result in severe symptoms, cannot be controlled with over-the-counter painkillers, or happen on a frequent basis.

Question 9: Painkillers and lying down in a dark room are the only treatments for migraines.

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Unfortunately, your answer is incorrect.

There are a number of treatments available for migraines. Finding one to suit your symptoms may take some time, as not all treatments suit all migraine patients.

Lying down in a darkened room may help some migraineurs deal with their symptoms, as being upright and exposed to bright lighting may exacerbate feelings of disorientation and pain.

Painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen may help some people to ease migraine related pain.

However prescription medications known as triptans are also used to treat migraines, and these work by reversing blood vessel dilation in the brain.

Anti-sickness medication may also help those who experience nausea and vomiting during a migraine attack.

Some people may be tempted to try alternative treatments if more traditional methods do not offer relief.

Studies have suggested that acupuncture and transcranial magnetic stimulation can be beneficial in the treatment of migraines, and NICE have published guidance on both of these methods. However, you should still speak to your doctor or migraine specialist before commencing a course of alternative therapy.  

Trigger avoidance may be the most effective form of treatment for those who experience migraines. This might be easier for someone who has identified a food source as a trigger, whereas those who have migraines triggered by environmental changes may find it more difficult to limit their exposure.

Question 10: Migraines only last for four hours.

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Unfortunately, your answer is incorrect.

A migraine episode can last anywhere between a couple of hours up to several days. Symptoms do not tend to affect the person in between migraine episodes but the impact of each attack can have ongoing effects in a person’s social and working life.

If you experience migraine episodes and find that the symptoms are impacting on your everyday life, you should speak to your doctor.

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