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When A Migraine Feels Like A Stroke – Keri Savoca – Medium

Women suffer from migraines more often than men do, and researchers say that hormones may be the culprit. Estrogen may make women more sensitive to migraine triggers. For this reason, oral contraceptives containing estrogen (i.e. most of them) are contraindicated for women who experience migraine with aura. There is plenty of evidence to back this up.

Migraine symptoms can mimic those of transient ischemic attacks, or “mini strokes”, which some studies suggest could foreshadow a “real” stroke. And alarmingly, women who experience migraine with aura might be at an increased risk as well; blood vessels temporarily narrow during a migraine attack, which can cause blood clots to form, making migraine sufferers more susceptible to full-blown strokes.

Maybe it isn’t “just a headache”.

When CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin recently “disappeared” in the middle of her set, fans on social media began to ask where she had gone.

That’s how quickly it happens; you’re fine, and then you’re not. Thousands of people responded to her post, expressing empathy, and sharing their own stories of being completely debilitated by a sudden migraine attack.

Thankfully, I haven’t had a migraine in a few months after consulting with my doctor and making some lifestyle changes. I still get them a few times a year, but it’s a drastic improvement from having them on a regular basis.

But still, I’m frightened each and every time it happens.

What if it happens when I’m driving? When I’m crossing a busy street? When I’m holding a pot of boiling water?

By the time I say to myself, “I think I’m going to have a mi — ”, it’s too late. I couldn’t even call for help if I tried.

Considering how common migraine attacks are and how dangerous they can be, it’s concerning that there are so few ways to make them stop.

There are abortive medications that take awhile to kick in. There are injectable triptans that work rapidly, similar to an Epipen, but need to be administered at the first sign of trouble. And there are pain medications that help you deal with the after-effects.

The key, perhaps, is in prevention.

Find out what triggers your migraines, and work with a doctor to eliminate as many triggers as possible.

Some of the triggers might be biological; you can address these with your doctor and try to eliminate the underlying causes.

Others might be environmental, such as exposure to bright lights.

While attempting to prevent all migraines can be futile, it’s important to realize that stopping a migraine in its tracks might be altogether impossible. Considering the potential risks of having recurrent migraines, it’s in your best interest to do whatever necessary to prevent as many of them as possible.

And when it comes to environmental triggers, there are usually simple solutions; you can tint the windows of your car darker than the legal limits, for example, with a note and an accurate diagnosis from a doctor.


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