Many Migraines are Initially Misdiagnosed – Including Mine

Many Migraines are Initially Misdiagnosed – Including Mine

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I have headaches myself which is one of the reasons I am very passionate
about treating headaches and seeing headache patients. It is not an arena a lot of doctors want to
get involved in. It can be challenging, but through my own
experiences, I have come to realize that you really need
to study headaches. You really need to develop a program to approach headaches and
you really need to apply some expertise. There are a lot of armchair experts out there
who will give you advice when you get a headache. “Oh take this, it always works for me or my
grandmother always told me to strap a poultice on my head that that’s work great.” If those things work, that’s fine, but I know
in my own case I’ve had headaches since I was 5 or 6 years old and they were misdiagnosed
as sinus problems and dental problems and eyeglass problems. In fact, this persisted right through college
and medical school. Nobody picked up on the idea that I had migraine
headaches. It wasn’t until I was in a neurology residency
program at the University of Oklahoma and the director of the program was the President
of the American Headache Society and a member on the board of the International Headache
Society. He pointed out to me, “Dana, the headaches
that you’re having meet all the criteria for migraine headaches.” Then a light bulb went off and I said “Wait
a minute, if that’s true, I’ve been treating my headaches all wrong all this time” throwing
over-the-counter medications at the headaches, when actually there are much better prescription
medications. I had been doing things such as sleep deprivation
and too much caffeine that would trigger migraines that I needed to modify. Once I knew the diagnosis, then I knew a logical
approach to address my headaches and now I’m in charge of my headaches instead of the other
way around. Migraines are not the only type of headache
people experience, but they are by far the most common. In fact, of all people who go to see their
doctor or go to an emergency room with the complaint “I have a headache,” over 90% of
those individuals have migraines. None have sinus headaches and very few have
other types of headaches such as exertional headaches, trigeminal vascular headaches,
cluster headaches, and so forth.

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