#1: Believe them when they say they’re having a migraine.
One major challenge for people who suffer from migraines is that they might not always get the support they need. Because their condition is invisible, friends and family might not take the pain seriously, leaving the individual to struggle on their own and feel abandoned.
“Family members of [people who get migraines] have to understand that this is a real condition—with real consequences,” says Mark Green, MD, neurologist at Mount Sinai Hospital.
What Caregivers Need to Know About Migraines
For starters, migraines are serious, debilitating, and real. When friends, coworkers, bosses, and family members doubt the reality of someone’s migraines, stigmatizing judgments can occur.
Migraines may cause an individual to call out from work, miss social events, or not follow through on commitments. “People think you’re lazy, or that you’re trying to get out of things,” says Dr. Green. This can be frustrating for the individual, who may otherwise try to be reliable or disciplined.
“This is a biological problem,” says Dr. Green. Learn more myths about migraines here.
How to Help Someone with Migraines
If you live or spend a lot of time with someone who is prone to migraines, one of the best ways you can help is by allowing them to stick to a regular and consistent schedule. That might mean encouraging them to eat meals, go to bed, and wake up at similar times each day.
For example, if your loved one wants to head home early on a Friday night, it’s best to respect that. Urging them to “live a little” and stay out later could result in a migraine later, since inconsistent sleep is a migraine trigger.
For parents of children with migraines, you will likely need to take a more active approach in preventing migraines. Encouraging your child to drink plenty of water, eat fresh food on a regular schedule, minimize caffeine intake, sleep at the same hours every night, and exercise regularly can all help avoid migraines, according to the American Migraine Foundation (AMF).
If your loved one notices early migraine warning signs, let them get sleep. “Leave the people to themselves to sleep, to allow the room to be cool, to darken the room, and [if] they want, to supply them with cool compresses for their head,” says Dr. Green. Here are more home remedies to soothe a migraine.
Above all, one of the best things you can do is support them: Believe their pain, don’t blame them for their migraine, and don’t guilt them for missing events.
“The biggest stigma of migraine is it’s all in your head, and if you were not such a wimp, you wouldn’t have this problem,” says Dr. Green. “We want the caregivers to be educated and understand what migraine is all about, and be part of the migraine treatment team.”
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Family members of migrainers have
to understand that this is a real
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condition with real consequences.
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People with migraine get a lot
of negative perceptions.
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Part of it's at work.
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Because people think you're lazy, or
you're trying to get out of things,
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and may be you're missing work or
not showing up.
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In terms of your family you'll
miss important social events, and
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they may believe that that's you
have some motivation for doing that.
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This is a biological problem and
they have to understand that,
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what makes everyone feel worse.
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Care givers need to understand
that migraine people need for
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things to be as regular as possible.
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So allowing that person
to sleep regular hours,
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to have perhaps more multiple meals, to
hydrate, these are very, very important.
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And they have to understand that's
a very important part of the therapy of
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Most important thing that care givers
can do in an acute attack is to
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leave the people to themselves to sleep.
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To allow the room to be cool,
to darken the room, and
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perhaps supply them if they want
with cool compresses to their head.
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The biggest stigma of migraine
is that it's all in your head.
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And that if you were not such a wimp
you wouldn't have this problem.
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We want the caregivers to be educated and
understand what migraine are all about,
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and be part of the migraine
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Headaches in kids: what parents can do to help. Mount Royal, NJ: American Migraine Foundation, 2015. (Accessed on August 17, 2018 at https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/understanding-migraine/headaches-kids-parents-can-help/.)
Migraine. Washington, DC: U.S. National Library of Medicine. (Accessed on August 16, 2018 at https://medlineplus.gov/migraine.html.)
Top 10 migraine triggers and how to deal with them. Mount Royal, NJ: American Migraine Foundation, 2017. (Accessed on August 16, 2018 at https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/understanding-migraine/top-10-migraine-triggers-and-how-to-deal-with-them/.)