Migraines: Not Just Another Headache
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Migraines: Not Just Another Headache

If you’ve never had a migraine, you might think it’s just a really bad headache but if you’ve had ever had one, or you know someone who gets them, you know that they are much worse than that and much more complicated. A true migraine is a multi-symptom disorder of the nervous system that affects the brain. But yes, really bad headaches are a major component of it — probably the most significant and identifiable component. But usually they last longer than a normal headache, anywhere from four hours to several days. And it brings along with it a whole array of other symptoms. Most migraine sufferers experience extreme sensitivity to light and sound and sometimes even smells. They also commonly experience nausea, vomiting, and even fainting. What little relief they can find is generally only achieved by being in a still, dark, silent room until the symptoms pass. And believe it or not, it gets worse! Migraines also cause problems before and after the headache. It’s different for everyone, but the ordeal can start with symptoms as seemingly minor as constipation, weird food cravings, neck stiffness, and excessive yawning. As the symptoms worsen, people generally enter a phase called “aura” in which they may experience things like visual disturbances, like seeing shapes or lights, blurred, or double vision, or even loss of vision, pins and needles sensations in the extremities, weakness, and sometimes even slurred speech. Now you may notice that these sound a lot like the symptoms of a stroke. And in fact, migraines have so many things in common with strokes, that doctors sometimes have to do tests to determine which disorder they’re dealing with. After the headache has passed, most migraine sufferers experience a period of weakness and fatigue that can last from a few hours to a few days. Obviously this isn’t the sort of thing that anybody wants to experience – so, what causes it, can it be controlled, or at least treated? Doctors think that migraines are probably caused by a sharp drop in your brain’s level of serotonin, a neural transmitter that plays a key role in regulating things like sleep and mood. And once that imbalance strikes, it causes a whole cascade of effects. But what actually triggers this imbalance is complicated and uncertain We do know that one of the most important factors is genetics. If one or both of your parents has experienced a migraine, odds are that you will as well. For reasons that we do not understand, women are far more likely to have migraines than men. And they are even more likely to experience one during times of hormonal changes. For example: puberty, menstruation, ovulation, pregnancy, when using hormonal contraceptives, or hormone replacements, and during menopause. Beyond that, everyone’s triggers are different. For many people it may depend on their stress, their activity level, or sleep schedule — all things in which serotonin plays a role. And still others may be triggered by things that are seemingly random as bright lights, loud sounds, unusually strong smells, or even weather changes. The treatment of migraines is further evidence that it is not just a headache It’s true that the headache itself can sometimes be treated with pain relievers, although they’re less effective. So in addition to pain relief, migraine sufferers take medications that try to treat the source of the attacks, like by controlling the constriction of the blood vessels in the brain, blood pressure, serotonin levels, and inflammation. So clearly a migraine is more than just a bad headache, remember that when you hang out with people who get them — if they’re in a bad way, the biggest favor you can give them is just let them be by themselves in a dark room. You can keep watching SciShow, but just do it very quietly. And thank you for watching this SciShow dose — especially to our Subbable subscribers who keep these episodes comin’. If you’d like some neat swag, like a SciShow chocolate bar or an autographed DVD collection, go to Subabble.com to learn more. If you have any questions or ideas for an episode you’d like to see, you can find us on Facebook and Twitter, and as always, down in the comments below. And if you wanna keep getting smarter with us here at SciShow, you can go to Youtube.com/SciShow and subscribe!

100 thoughts on “Migraines: Not Just Another Headache

  1. STILL MY FAVOURITE VIDEO ON YOUTUBE 2 YEARS LATER, Sick of people saying oh I have a migraine… really and youre here… at the bar… in town … at work … and just took 2 advil and youre ok … really … nope you just have a headache

  2. I've only had a migraine once and I'm so glad I haven't had it since then and it was absolutely terrible. I threw up twice and my dogs wouldn't stop barking even tho I was upstairs it felt like they were right beside me. I was literally crawling around crying because I was alone and didn't know what to do. I only have a headache rn thank god

  3. The first time I got a migraine I woke up screaming,and I was taken to the hospital,I wanted to die.They suck.

  4. Thank you for this episode. It explains what I struggle with very well. Hopefully showing this to my family and friends will help them be a little more empathetic. I only wish you had mentioned how difficult to treat chronic migraines are. Some of us have migraines on some level 20 days or more a month. When that is the case being in a dark quiet room all the time isn't an option. So we push through the pain to live our lives. Having the understanding of those around us is crucial in coping.

  5. I've come up with a cure for migraines that at least works for me, every time: When you feel the headache coming on, take no fewer than 6 excedrin and go back to bed for 30 minutes or so. Yes, that's a LOT of excedrin, and maybe this isn't a viable solution for anyone that gets migraines on a very regular basis. I feel them maybe once or twice a month.

  6. I get very bad migraines when I'm on my period and very rarely get them when I'm off it but I still do get them and if you live in the united states there is a good medication called "ultramol" and it helps thanks for coming to my ted talk

  7. Thank god my migraines are a little better now. When I was little my migraines were so severe I would hallucinate and wouldn't hear anything.

  8. I suffer from migraines and the one thing ive learnt is NOT to eat a thing while suffering one it will cause you to be sick and my migraines can be started by high levels,of stress/anxiety or excitement but its stress that's more the enemy for me

  9. I get migraines occasoinally, and one of those times was at the start of a 12 hour colorguard rehersal. It was not a good day.

  10. The fact that I don’t even know what kind of headache I have is a bit funny for me. I had a headache last for more than a week and for the time I had that headache, I did not understand anything at school.

  11. I had a mild migraine when i was 7 it was horrible everything hurt my vision was blurry but it only lasted for a day so i was lucky it wasn't moderste or severe

  12. It's just like having a headache, not anything more, just a headache with of course… a longer duration.
    I guess i'll never have headaches in my life but just the extension of something longer. Migraines.

  13. I hate it when people say “I get headaches too!” Or “just take an ibuprofen” migraines are a million times worse than headaches. When I get mine I get really tired or really calm and then there auras come. After that it’s all a landslide of pain and nausea. I can’t take oral meds when I get them because they always end up coming back the way they came. Migraines aren’t dinky little headaches, they last forever and feel worse.

  14. when you go blind in the middle of the city and tell your friends and they say you're faking it and you almost get hit by a car because MIGRAINES ARE REAL

  15. I don't get auras every time but when I do I get vision loss. It's absolutely terrifying when all of a sudden focusing becomes impossible and you're unable to see anything.

    Thank the gods I don't get them every time because I get migraines pretty frequently. It's terrible, if your genetics spared you count yourself lucky…

  16. For the past 18 years or more I get migraine everyday am 33 now I have to take 2 Excedrin tablet.every morning it doesn't help all the time but if I don't it gets really bad is like if I can give you the whole world just for my migraine to go away I will I wish it cud just leave me for good just like my girlfriend did it sucks,,,,

  17. In class, i saw this little spot in my vision, but didn’t think much of it. Throughout class it started spreading across my vision and i started panicking because I couldn’t see ANYTHING of what my teacher was writing on the board. I was trying to walk up to her to tell her but then it just felt like my brain exploded.

  18. I get migraines, but I've had noticable auras for the past year, so I'm able to much better manage them. The medication I take effectively treats the pain, but either as a side affect of the medication or untreated part of the migraine, I have very low awareness and difficulty processing any outside information. I understand not wanting people to call every headache a migraine, but it's hard to accurately explain that state to my teachers / friends. Especially since when I'm in it I find it hard to words at all. I usually say "I was getting a migraine but I took some medication" but I do think some professors I have feel I'm not using migraine correctly.

    Do other people out there have semi-reliable treatment and struggle with this.

    (Ideally, I wouldn't go to class when this happens, but my programme has very strict attendance rules, so it's better to be there and not remember a thing than to not be there.) in school teachers often thought I was doing drugs when I had the pre-migraine symptoms, because of the changes in my eyes (my pupils dialate and I stop blinking as often and my eyes look "glassy")

  19. My mom gets them so bad she’ll throw up or pass out. I have just started getting them over the last year and while mine don’t hurt any worse than a normal headache (which is still absolutely terrible) and mine just so happen to last for almost a week every single time I get one! I’ve always said I hated the sun and like to keep my apartment pitch dark especially during summer (I also have GAD and panic attacks so that’s probably a main reason) but I’ve only just realized that my hatred of the sun and the fact that it just seems SO BRIGHT is probably from my migraines. My moms migraines are so bad, she has to get botox shots in her head. Her doctor also told her, before I realized my freaking week long headaches were migraines, that any kids she has (which is only me) would be highly likely to get migraines passed to them as well so yay for me. Nothing I take helps to relieve the pain and like I said it’s no worse than a regular headache, they just last for days and days and days and days! But I read online that migraines don’t have to be as painful as the extent that my gets them. I also frequently get nausea and dizziness so I’m going tot talk to my doctor about getting some kind of prn pain med to take when I feel one coming on.

  20. Mine are genetic disorder when it happens I am sensitive to every thing including touch and temperature. I can usually tell when one is about to happen. I have a small headache followed by numbness and nausea not a fun thing to have the only thing I found to help is a dark quiet room and a couple of arthritis patches on the forehead

  21. I found this video because I couldn't tell if what I have was a headache or a migraine but now I'm 99% sure it's a migraine .also normal headaches don't last 12 hours.😥

  22. I remember when I used to get migraines when I was a kid from the ages of around 8-11. Man was it a dark time of my life, not because life felt like crap or anything (I was just a kid lol), but simply because of the constant migraines I had about 2-3 times a week lasting for a whole day! And I thought they were simple headaches! They were definitely much more intense than 'regular' headaches, although I'd rate my migraine scale of 1-10 at about a 6.5, which is moderately high but still intense for such a young kid. I never felt any of the speech/hearing distortions or blurry vision or any forms of seizure-like episodes thankfully, but nausea, vomiting, intense hearing/vision/smelling sensitivities, excessive yawning, difficulty focusing, difficulty sleeping and of course intense headaches were very real and terrible symptoms I had from the migraines. So I went to the doctor when I was about 9 yrs old and he tested me through an MRI scanner and I was thankfully normal for the most part but I was prescribed cyproheptadine to help ease my stress which really helped, but unfortunately provoked weight gain for me. But man was it worth it because I lost the weight and the migraines altogether officially when I was 12 yrs old and I felt so alive and relieved. I feel true empathy and sympathy for all migraine-sufferers and hope you get better like I did. Although it may take a few months, or years like with me, I assure you to keep pushing and consult a neurologist to help find the source of your intense symptoms. You will get through it as I bravely did as such a young kid! Good luck and god bless.

  23. I don't if this is a migraine but I was reading in school and then some of the words just started disappearing then 5mins later I head a really bad pain in my head I went home and vomited twice then I felt better straight after what was this?

  24. I've had migraines now for the last week or so and it coincidet with my throat being inflamed and we having season change here as well.
    Just so damn annoying!!

  25. I get migraines when I've forgotten to take my antidepressant. Since it's got to do with seretonin and my body is a mess, I tend to end up in a basement bedroom with the lights out and a bottle of painkillers.

  26. that's perfect advice, I find that having horrendous migraines is like my body torturing my soul. just spent 36hrs in pain, I walked in a small circle from 11pm to 6am even the fairy lights on the Christmas were too bright –

  27. When I wake up to that sweet urge of just forcing out my whole insides in the middle of the frigging dear night just to end up with two days of barely eating and a constantly exploding head… How to start your weekend…

  28. I have just sent this to my best friend. I've been having migraines since i was 15. Mine tend to come after a fainting spell but not always.

  29. I've grown up with my mother practically living in the bathroom puking her guts up, because of migraine attacks. I've been terrified of also getting it once I reached my mid twenties. Well, I can gladly say I don't get severe symptoms like my mother, but as I'm writing this I've had a head-in-a-vice headache for 3 days in a row now. It happens often.
    It's taxing, and I'm sick and tired of it.
    I was reading a bunch of the comments here, and a lot saying you shouldn't complain if you "only" have a headache. I say, there are degrees to everything. I can "function" while I have headaches like these, as in, I can walk around, eat and use my vision.. What I can't do is concentrate on anything, a feeling of utter exhaustion, and the day is just a haze, waiting for the pain to go away.

    Not really sure how to get my point across, but… something like… Don't dismiss other peoples suffering because you perceive it as less pain than your own? I guess… ^_^"
    Everyone handles pain differently, and some have a really high threshold.
    I've seem people charge through an entire day of work, while having a 40* degree fever, while others crash and burn at 38*.

  30. hey guys, you need to expand a lot more on this. Like how the aura is a seizure of the visual cortex. You can easily go into a lot more detail.
    like how an ice pack or cold cloth helps, how eating beforehand (however unintuitive that sounds, woth the vomiting an all) lessens the bllod pressure in the brain helping to take the edge off. Also how drinking water after you vomit so you have something other than your stomach to throw up making the heaving less painful (if you can get a moment between heaves to drink water).

  31. My migraines are cause by over cast skys. Sometimes I get lucky and will have a bad headache when I go outside but then have it go away once I'm inside the house. However there are those times where it will start inside and then I have to go to class and be the time I get to the other side of campus I feel like I'm going to throw up or explode or both

  32. Hah, thought your migraine was bad? Yea wait until you get a concussion when you're already having a migraine. Get on my level of excruciating pain

  33. I'm 16 and I get ophthalmic migraines almost every single day, some are a lot worse than others but it's a very shitty thing I have to live with. Idk if this had anything to do with it, but I have rediculously good eyes(except for when theres damn lights floating all over the place). I can read the entire vision chart which is a few places after 20/20 but light kills me; barely more light than normal or a change in light never fails to make my migraine worse. I'm wierd though, noises never affect me in the least; In fact, sometimes playing or whistling music helps me a lot when my migraine is really bad.

    **0 clue why you would care but there ya go. I'm a dude by the way, idk why I didnt mention that.
    *I never get stressed or scared ever and both my parents get them occasionally

  34. Imitrex (sumatriptan) changed my life. Also regular, as if it's an RX medication, caffeine added to my diet very much helped. I had worse and more frequent migraines when I was caffeine free for a full year.

  35. I thought that the symptoms of migraines were the same as those of regular headaches but like worse…turns out I was very wrong 😂

  36. Some of my weirdest triggers are candles with the hazelnut or pecan type fragrances and if I wear sunglasses that brush against the bridge of my nose. I have many many many more triggers, but those are the weirdest.

  37. I confront the Aura ! And continue on my day ! The only time I can't confront it is if I am writing, reading, or driving ! I take my meds when I see it and I ride the hell out of it ! And when the headache starts I ride it out also ! And for some funny reason I get them more separated on a longer period ! And taking 2 Magnesium Oxide morning and night helps a lot !

  38. People with normal headaches complaining, and I ask them, have you ever had a migraine? Head hurting so bad you feel like vomiting and just laying down to sleep, but have trouble because it hurts so bad it takes you forever to actually get to sleep, then you wake up and your head is still pounding as bad or worse, for more than a day at times? And they laugh, like something like that doesn't exist. 3 days was the longest I've had one, anyone at 4? 4 anyone? Do I hear a 4?😂😭😂😭

  39. I suffer them in clusters
    Literally since age 5.
    I have to take codeine otherwise I cant continue functioning when one's happening. Luckily mine ends when the headache is over, but it FEELS LIKE MY BRAIN IS IN A PRESSURE CRUSHER ABD MY SKULL IS GOING TO BREAK OPEN. I have to take codeine and acetaminophen together, its all that works. Oh and for some reason dextromethorphan works sometimes, so does promethazine. But sometimes I have to just chug the meds and pass out to dissociate from the pain. It always helps

  40. When I was 13 I had to puke to get migraine away. Once I puked for 1h, in a café on a crowded place.

  41. Let it be said what the headache represents, it's me defending in suspense. It's me suspended in a defenseless test. Being tested by a ruthless examinat that's represented best by my depress………………………ing thoughts.
    That's what it actually is Hank

  42. Thankfully I don't get migraines very often. Once a year. But when I do…it never fails. 3 days for the migraine and 3 more days of just wanting to do nothing more than sleep. Because of the rarity I don't even bother seeing a doctor about it. I don't get all the thingsd either. Though light and sound sensativity are the worst.

  43. I suffer thru massive migraines too. My psychiatrist put me on gabapentin to help control it. It works sometimes.

  44. I've gotten three migraines throughout my life, and I only remember one of them.

    0/10 would not do again

  45. I think people who call regular headaches “migraines” are those who don’t get many headaches in the first place. I get headaches 6-7 days a week; it sucks, but it’s manageable. I can still live my life. But the 2-3 days a year I get a migraine, everything has to shut down. It’s horrible to think how often some people experience them. 🙁

  46. I think I might have had a migrane, I'm not sure. Because sometimes my head feels like it's throbing on both sides, than I feel dizzy if I try to get up, I feel very sensitive to light, and sometimes I feel nausieus. It last more than 4hours ussually. But I kinda think I don't because people make it sound super bad, and for me it doesn't seen as bad as they say. Do my symtoms sound like headaches or migranes to you?

  47. Lmao one chocolate bar and my head feels like it’s about to explode……..these “headaches” are so terrible

  48. I thought I got migraines for a bit but when I talked to those that for sure get them I wasn't sure. Neurologist seems to think there is a migraine component as migraine meds do seem to help a bit, but I have never experienced all those other disturbances. Just head pain for like a couple hours.

  49. I didn't know that that bad headache I have after one of my borderline attacks , or picks of certain feelings detonated this pain. In wen to the doctor today for flu symptoms, bilut when I mentioned that after topic she tells me, classic migrane..

  50. This is for the morons that don't believe that migraines aren't real,it isn't just "All In Our Heads " !

  51. I get migraines when I'm extremely stressed. I've been training almost everyday for over a week for my new job and I've been so high strung about it, I actually had to leave in the middle of my shift today cause I got auras and had trouble seeing. I was like "I'll stay as long as I can" but they were like "no take care of yourself go home." Ugh it was prob my worst migraine too, I threw up 4 times. Thankfully the worst has passed, I'm just chilling in bed now hours later just trying to figure out wtf is actually happening with my brain???

  52. I don't suffer from lack of vision, quite the contrary, i know i have a migraine when the sunlight hurt my eyes because my pupils are dilated.

    I don't vomit or have a numbness in the muscles either.

    For me the headache is usually pretty mild (on several occasions it was so intense that i thought i was dying).

    But the worse in my case are the strong shivers, i feel like nothing can warm me up and i tremble like when you have the flu.

    Also i loose all vitality, feel like my soul is just uncomfortable in my own skin and i go through the motions like a zombie.

    In my case i'd say it's a mix of headache, flu like symptoms and a severe depression all in one.

    I just feel like i don't have the strenght to do anything and want to die and be over with.

  53. To all my migraine brothers and sisters.

    I feel you. Migraine is like the most annoying thing ever. Hope one day there is a solution for this.

  54. Lol I have migraines but I’ll also have headaches sometimes. If I say I have a headache, then I have a headache. If I have a migraine, I use that word.

    BECAUSE THEY ARE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. I’ll be like, “oh it’s just a headache.”

  55. The best thing with the migrain is that you have no idea what a headache means. Tiger balm ointment, cold shower, no stress, no coffee, no sugar and no alcohol. Strong alcohol helps only temporary and makes this sh… come soon again. I've been suffering all my life from this and didn't even know. People told me it just a headache and I were too lazy, too sensitive and so on. All my life I tried to figger out what was wrong with me. Nothing, it's just the migrain. It was so simple and I didn't know it. Yes, I think people with migrain are just too sensitive to everything, this are our triggers.

  56. So I'm not really expecting anyone to know what this is, but about 2 years ago I started getting these weird "headaches" every day starting about 4-6 hours after I wake up. But the weird thing is mostly that it felt and still feels like an electric storm in my head, along with difficulty my fine motor control and speech when the "headaches" got too severe. Pretty much only sleep would reset my brain for what little time off relief I had. I started seeing a neurologist a year ago, and it's probably not anything like epilepsy, bleeding in the brain, or cancer as I've had an MRI, a conventional EEG, and a three day EEG. Just about the only text I didn't have was the spinal tap, but the neurologist wanted to try some medications before jumping to that stage, and low and behold propranolol fixed my "headaches" for the most part even though my symptoms are super weird sometimes for migraines. I've yet to meet another person with the same problem, but I'm just happy there's something I can do to stop those horrible daily "headaches"

  57. i`ve suffered this for more than 25 five years as a teenager i had the attacks 2-3 times a month every time i played basketball or doing some extreme workout, that is my trigger, all the simptoms visual aura 20 or 30 minutes before extreme head pain and one side paralysis, the nausea, loss of speach etc. and after 4 hours the i vomited and the pain went away, but i used to feel weak for 2 or 3 days after. then i stoped having the attacks for almost 6 years and i thought i was cured but they came back at 28 years old, every 1 or 2 years only, they are less severe right now mild pain but the other simptoms are just the same, and still only if i work out with extreme heat or humidity, i had an attack after playing basketball 3 weeks ago and then 1 week ago an other, it sucks because i like to exercise and now at my 36 years old this is very importan for my health as i have metabolic syndrome, last time i had an inyection of ketorolac 30 mg IM, then 1 pill of 10 mg metoclopramide and that made me very usefull with no nausea and just a very low pain so now thaths working for me ok, but i would like to know if there is anything i can do to prevent this hemiplegic migraine attacks, some prophilaxys so i can do any phisical exercise without fear of having this. sorry for my bad english. than you.

  58. Another type the genetic…which they still can't cure…pain meds are the Only way to bare these migraines.. Period.

  59. I've been getting them my whole life. When I was a kid my mom always told me it was either because I wasn't drinking enough water, watching too much TV or not eating the right food. It would be at a point where I would be on the floor afraid to move because I'll throw up. I'd get the chills, weak muscles and it would feel like someone threw a firecracker behind my eye.
    I didn't know what I was suffering from until I was talking to my friends wife who just so happen to be a pharmacist and was really educated in these things, on the account of having to treat her husband and their 1 year old son.
    Sometimes I'd wish that my right eye would just be cut out to relieve the pain. But I somehow manage

  60. Ugh, 10 year old me was trapped sitting on a couch in a dark quiet livingroom for hours. I couldn't even move, since trying to lay down made it worse.

  61. Anyone else have eyes that are sensitive to the sun when a migraine might come. It doesn't always result in a headache but I notice the sun sensitivity more when I do have a migraine.

    It causes my eyes to flutter and my body to flinch for a sec which is annoying. and sometimes I also feel a tad off like its almost a migraine but no pain.

    The longer I stay in the sun eventually it stops, and it only happens when I suddenly go from dark to light. It also only happens with sunlight.

    As for other migraine symptoms, I also get a stiff neck before the migraine.

    The eye thing does not always happen and I'm perfectly healthy otherwise besides some acid reflux and some insomnia that can happen with that if I don't watch what I eat before bed. I wake up at 4am-5am from indigestion sometimes.

    I wonder if it is migraines, insomnia or both. If I miss sleep I can get a migraine.

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