15 Things You Shouldn’t Say To Someone Who Gets Migraines

15 Things You Shouldn’t Say To Someone Who Gets Migraines

While you may mean well, the last thing a person with a migraine would want to hear is the sound of your voice telling them what to do.

Migraines have debilitating effects on a person experiencing them. As per Healthline, migraines are neurological conditions that are characterized by intense, painful headaches. It could also result in nausea, vomiting, difficulty speaking, numbness or tingling, and sensitivity to light and sound. A person with a migraine would want to shut down till the severe throbbing passes. The frequency of these headaches vary from person to person and they may all have a different way of handling it. While you may mean well, the last thing a person with a migraine would want to hear is the sound of your voice telling them what to do.


Source: Getty Images/Oscar Wong (representative)


Even otherwise, there are just somethings you should just not tell a person who experiences migraines. It would help allow them their space and time, but never say any of the following:

1. "I get headaches too"




Yes, migraines are characterized by headaches but it so much more than that. According to Speak Migraine, "It is a neurological condition that impacts our nervous system by causing temporary changes to the chemicals, nerves and blood vessels in our brain." It is accompanied by other uncomfortable symptoms that make the person feel nauseous, sensitive to light, sounds, and smells, or have difficulty concentrating. It can last for a few hours to several days. So it is not like the regular headache you experience at all.

2. "Just take an aspirin"




People who live with migraines would have already consulted medical professionals who would have let them know that there is no such thing as a cure for migraines. There are only ways to manage it and prevent it from happening. Aspirins actually could have the opposite of pain relief for someone with a migraine. While it is effective for a headache, it may not work for migraines. Best to stay away from medical advice if you are not a certified practitioner. 

3. "You should probably just get something to eat"




Hunger does cause headaches but may have nothing to do with migraines. In fact, there are trigger foods that could cause migraines. Besides, it is probably going to be hard for a person with migraines to eat food, considering they are probably dizzy and nauseous. Even if they eat, they may not be able to keep it down. 

4. "It can't be that bad"


Actually, yes it can. The World Health Organization (WHO) has labeled migraines as disabling. It has reported that migraines on their own were found to be the sixth highest cause worldwide of years lost due to disability (YLD.) About 25 million working- or school-days are lost every year because of migraine. So yes, it can be that bad.

5. "I don't think headaches warrant time off from work"


Source: Getty Images/Justin Paget (representative)


Working would require a person to stare at a computer or some other screen for hours at a time. Lights could be blinding and other stimuli could get too much for them. Since it has already been established that migraines are nothing like headaches, there is no way a person experiencing a migraine attack could get work done. Allowing them to rest would help them recover faster than forcing them to work through the pain. 

6. "You don't look sick though"




It is what is called an "invisible illness." And people who have had chronic migraine have learned how to hide what they are feeling so they don't have to explain themselves over and over again. You may have meant it as a compliment but it comes across as playing down their illness or worse, negating it. It would be better to just ask how they're feeling than make the call yourself. 

7. "It's probably the stress"


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It could be. But that does not mean it would take away the possibility of ever getting a migraine attack if the element of stress was taken away. Stress can trigger migraines but as a genetic and neurologic disease, it is how the brain would overreact to normal stimuli. A person with no stress could still get migraines.

8. "You're so lucky to get to hand out at home all day"




This is just a mean thing to say. People with migraines are not having a fun time at home when they have an attack. They can barely sit and are probably curled up in a ball in their darkened room to get through the pain. This comment could allude to the untrue notion that people with migraine are lazy people. They are not. 

9. "Do ____ to take your mind off it"




Do not suggest they listen to calming music, watch a funny movie, take up painting, to get rid of migraines. Taking up a hobby won't help. The pain and accompanying symptoms will not allow them to do anything in the first place. In a world that demands productivity, they are bound to feel depressed that they do not make the cut. Especially since the neurotransmitters such as serotonin are thought to be involved in migraine genesis.

10. "Walk it off"




Exercise is a great way to help prevent migraines and the person would probably already know this too. But it would be impossible for them to "walk it off" when they are experiencing an attack. On the other hand, exercise could also be a trigger for migraines. 

11. "It's probably just your sinuses"


Source: Getty Images/Peter Dazeley (representative)


"There are of course exceptions to all rules, but as a rule, sinuses don't cause headaches that don't go away," Jason Rosenberg, M.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Headache Center in Maryland told Huffington Post. Sinus headaches are different and are usually accompanied by a stuffy nose. 

12. "Is it that time of the month?"




Migraines are more common in women than men, men also experience severe migraines. Menstruation is a trigger for many people but it is not an exclusive condition experienced by them alone. One-third of migraine patients happen to be men, as per Migraine Pal.

13. "You still get migraines?"




"Migraine is a chronic condition which may last for decades or the entire course of one’s life," Dawn Buse, Ph.D., a clinical health psychologist and director of behavioral medicine at Montefiore Headache Center in New York stated. There may be fluctuations in severity but it is not something that is a one-time occurrence. It is a chronic condition. Patients do everything they can from having to suffer from migraines but that does not mean it will go away.

14. "Are you sure your migraine is not a brain tumor?"


Chronic migraine patients would have most likely had themselves checked out by a medical professional. While you may be concerned about the person, it does not serve anyone's purpose to make reckless assumptions, especially such scary ones. You could express your concern in a better way. It could also turn out to be a sensitive topic for some.

15. "It's just in your head"




It actually quite literally is. "This is a biologic condition that involves the brain and brain structure and neurotransmitters and is quite complex," Buse said. "When people say these things, it's just dismissive and trivializing. It makes people feel unheard and not validated and not respected."

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