When Tony and Emmy winner Kristin Chenoweth was 25 years previous, she had her first migraine assault whereas performing with the Virginia Symphony.
“At first, I believed one thing should be flawed with the highlight. I began getting what I now name, ‘kaleidoscope eyes,’ that means I see flashes of sunshine, and couldn’t see clearly,” she informed Healthline. “I additionally bought what felt like a mind freeze, like while you drink a slushie too quick, and the music sounded prefer it had been turned method up.”
She pushed by the efficiency till intermission however then fell to her knees with a pounding headache and he or she vomited on stage.
“I spent the entire intermission worrying about how I might get by the ultimate 45 minutes of the live performance,” mentioned Chenoweth.
Someway she discovered a strategy to carry out till the tip, however as quickly because the curtain dropped, she collapsed. A physician attended to her and knowledgeable her that she was having a migraine assault.
“I didn’t know the place to go from there. I used to be confused, apprehensive, and scared this might finish my profession,” Chenoweth mentioned.
Signs of power migraine
Within the years following her first migraine assault, Chenoweth started having them so ceaselessly that she was recognized with power migraine.
Power migraine is outlined by the International Headache Society (IHS) as complications occurring on 15 or extra days per 30 days for greater than 3 months, the place at the very least 8 of these headache days have the next migraine options:
- reasonable or extreme ache that’s typically intense
- ache on one aspect or either side of the pinnacle
- head ache that causes throbbing, pounding, or pulsating
- ache that worsens with train or motion
- head ache accompanied by nausea, vomiting, or mild and sound sensitivity
To diagnose a migraine dysfunction, a physician may begin by performing a bodily and neurological examination, or request different assessments akin to blood assessments, MRIs, and CT scans to rule out any situations that would trigger migraine-like signs.
Nonetheless, a analysis is usually primarily based on what number of headache days you expertise, relatively than the quantity of incapacity you may have from them.
The American Migraine Foundation (AMF) recommends monitoring your headache days and together with all the times you may have a headache irrespective of how extreme or gentle it’s. Holding a headache journal on paper or in an app will help you collect correct info so your physician can decide an applicable analysis.
“Along with when you may have [a] headache, it’s useful to notice when you find yourself taking medicines to deal with these complications so we will observe that the medicines are usually not being overused, and as well as any signs you might have seen with the headache assaults,” Dr. Brian Plato, headache neurologist at Norton Neuroscience Institute, informed Healthline.
Holding observe of your complications will assist decide in case you expertise episodic or power migraine.
Episodic migraine episodes can final for hours, but they might not happen once more for weeks or months, whereas power migraine assaults last more and happen extra typically.
Frequent signs of migraine embrace:
- mild and sound sensitivity
- sensory disturbances (referred to as an aura)
Whereas a headache is a symptom of migraine, Plato confused that migraine isn’t just a headache, however relatively a disabling neurological situation that usually contains head ache.
“[But] you would not have to have [a] headache to have migraine. Many instances, the non-headache signs — mild/sound sensitivity, nausea, dizziness, bother considering, bother talking, imaginative and prescient modifications, numbness — these signs generally will be extra disabling than the headache,” he mentioned.
Moreover, Dr. Salman Azhar, a neurologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, mentioned quite a lot of individuals who really feel like they’ve recurring sinus complications “even have migraine complications with sinus signs akin to nasal congestion or watery eyes.”
Educating folks that power migraine is greater than only a headache is considered one of Chenoweth’s greatest struggles. She needs individuals to know migraine is severe.
“There have been instances once I’ve been on the ground, unable to maneuver, vomiting, and unable to exit on stage,” she mentioned.
When migraine signs hit on the job, she channels braveness and motivation from the individuals who got here to see her.
“As a performer, I’m at all times fascinated with that little woman within the viewers who’s in New York Metropolis to see a Broadway present for the primary time. She deserves my 100% and I really feel responsible if I’m not in a position to give that to her,” mentioned Chenoweth.
Regardless of all her finest efforts, at instances her migraine assaults are so extreme that she has to overlook performances and different occasions.
One memorable time she handled a migraine assault was the evening she received her first Emmy Award in 2008.
“I couldn’t even rejoice as a result of taking photos and socializing was simply an excessive amount of. The very last thing you need to do is let down your pals, household, and colleagues, however for many individuals with power migraine, that’s simply the truth,” Chenoweth mentioned.
Whereas it’s tempting to attempt to energy by migraine assaults, she famous that generally caring for herself requires taking time for herself.
“And for me, that’s the toughest half. I don’t need this subsequent technology to really feel like they at all times have to ‘robust it out’ both,” she mentioned.
“It feels so liberating to speak about my situation. I’ve been in a position to construct a help system round me that actually understands what I’m going by,” says Chenoweth.
Genetics can play a task in your migraine threat
Whereas having situations akin to despair, nervousness, bipolar dysfunction, sleep issues, and epilepsy improve an individual’s possibilities of creating migraine, so does having a household historical past of migraine.
The National Library of Medicine states that most individuals who expertise migraine have relations who stay with migraine. Girls are additionally 3 instances extra doubtless than males to have migraine assaults.
As a toddler, Chenoweth witnessed her mom having migraine assaults however mentioned having them herself gave her a brand new appreciation for what her mom went by.
“I feel the largest distinction is that the administration of migraine has modified a lot, and I’m grateful to have discovered a power migraine remedy that works for me,” she mentioned.
Over time, she tried a number of remedies earlier than discovering a remedy plan that works for her, which incorporates FDA-approved BOTOX for power migraine each 12 weeks.
BOTOX works as a preventive remedy to assist scale back the frequency and severity of headache assaults. The remedy has been proven to cut back the variety of headache days per 30 days on common by about 50%, in line with the AMF.
Chenoweth mentioned the injections take 10 minutes and really feel like “tiny pinches” on the pores and skin.
Nonetheless, there are severe unwanted effects that may happen with BOTOX, akin to problem swallowing, talking, or respiration, eye issues, muscle weak point, neck ache, and headache, so it’s vital to speak with a physician about whether or not it’s an applicable and secure remedy for you.
To empower different individuals dwelling with power migraine to speak with their physician about how you can handle the situation, Chenoweth partnered with AbbVie on the Center Stage with Chronic Migraine program.
“[This] felt like a well timed and significant strategy to deliver this debilitating illness entrance and heart stage [for] others who stay with power migraine,” she mentioned. “It’s so vital to seek out a physician that you could be open and trustworthy with, somebody who listens rigorously to your wants and is prepared to work with you to discover a remedy plan.”
Along with BOTOX, she mentioned studying what triggers her migraine assaults helps her handle them. Stress, flying, working too many hours, and weight loss plan are all culprits.
“I do attempt to handle them — as a lot as doable, in fact — I’m on a aircraft a pair instances per week lately! Brilliant lights will also be a set off, so it might look humorous however I put on sun shades in every single place. Moreover, I keep away from alcohol and eat a low-salt weight loss plan,” she mentioned.
- stress or nervousness
- hormonal modifications in girls
- vibrant or flashing lights
- loud noises
- sturdy smells
- sure meals, particularly caffeine or tobacco
When you determine a single set off that causes migraine signs, avoiding that set off is sensible. Nonetheless, Plato mentioned that usually it’s a mixture of triggers that results in migraine assaults.
“The fact is that for most individuals, it’s A + B + C collectively that leads to the migraine assault,” he mentioned.
“Over time, I’ve discovered how highly effective it’s to be open about your illness … I hope that by sharing my expertise with power migraine, I can encourage others to handle this illness,” says Chenoweth.
Different remedies for migraine
In 2018, the FDA authorized anti-CGRP migraine treatments to stop each power and episodic migraine.
These medicines work by blocking the protein calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), which may trigger irritation and ache within the nervous system of people that expertise migraine.
It may be self-administered with injections month-to-month or, in some instances, quarterly. The AMF reports that there’s proof that anti-CGRP migraine remedies can scale back the variety of migraine days by 6–8 days per 30 days for individuals with power migraine.
“These medicines have considerably modified the panorama of what instruments we now have obtainable to deal with migraine. However maybe extra importantly, what these medicines have carried out is to assist change the dialog about what migraine actually is — it’s a actual neurological illness that consists of the mind and nerves being activated throughout these assaults attributable to recognized neuropeptides,” mentioned Plato.
One other household of medicines often called gepants additionally goal the identical peptide, however are taken orally, “[and] relying on the gepant, can be utilized as rescue remedy … or prevention,” mentioned Azhar.
He added that the remedy lasmiditan (Reyvow) targets serotonin receptors within the mind to cease a migraine assault because it’s occurring.
Different remedies which may be prescribed to stop power and episodic migraine embrace:
- beta-blockers like propranolol
- calcium channel blockers
- anticonvulsants or epilepsy medicines
As soon as migraine assaults happen, there are acute medicines that may assist cease the migraine or ease its signs, together with over-the-counter and prescription remedies akin to ibuprofen, acetaminophen, sumatriptan, and extra.
With acute remedies, it’s vital to maintain an open dialogue together with your physician and restrict these medicines since remedy overuse for complications will be unsafe.
Along with remedy, there are self-care practices which will assist when signs strike, like staying in a quiet, darkish room together with your eyes closed, placing a cool fabric or ice pack in your brow, or ingesting liquids.
Way of life modifications, akin to managing stress with train and leisure methods, sustaining a reasonable weight, and logging what meals, medicines, and environmental triggers you may have, can even assist in stopping them.
Elevating consciousness of power migraine
As a result of power migraine is an invisible sickness, Chenoweth mentioned dwelling with the situation has taught her to understand different individuals could also be going by challenges that aren’t obvious.
“It’s bolstered the influence of compassion for individuals round [me],” she mentioned.
Sharing her story additionally ignited self-compassion and self-advocacy.
“When I’m working with a group for a protracted time period, I open up about my power migraine analysis and my plan to keep away from triggers,” she mentioned. “It feels so liberating to speak about my situation. I’ve been in a position to construct a help system round me that actually understands what I’m going by.”
She hopes her story empowers others to talk out and take management of their illness.
“Over time, I’ve discovered how highly effective it’s to be open about your illness … I hope that by sharing my expertise with power migraine, I can encourage others to handle this illness,” she mentioned.
Most significantly, she needs these dwelling with migraine to know: “You aren’t alone.”