you are suffering from migraines, and if you are having migraines on a regular basis, chances are you may be suffering from chronic migraine.
So how do doctors diagnose chronic migraines?
Whether or not you have chronic migraines essentially depends on the number of days a month you are having headaches. If you’ve had headaches for 15 days out of the month for at least three months, it is likely that you have chronic migraines.
“Sometimes people think well I don’t get nausea/vomiting every time I get a headache, so maybe it’s not chronic migraine, but if you have headaches half the days of the month and at least eight of those attacks meet migraine criteria, and those are accompanied by the typical migraine symptoms, then that’s chronic migraine,” Dr. Crystal adds. “Sometimes as headaches become more frequent some of them lose their intensity.”
What can the Black community do to get an accurate diagnosis?
The symptoms of chronic migraine seem pretty straightforward, however, many Black people still face challenges getting an accurate diagnosis.
To combat this, Dr. Crystal says it’s helpful for patients to know the criteria doctors use to diagnose migraine. When diagnosing migraine, doctors refer to a “quick and easy tool” called ID migraine. Essentially it is three questions that doctors will ask you to determine whether or not you are suffering from migraines:
- Has a headache limited your activities for a day or more in the last three months?
- Are you nauseated or sick to your stomach when you have a headache?
- Does light bother you when you have a headache?
Did you answer yes on at least two of those questions? The chances that you are a migraine sufferer is high, but the good news is that you are prepared. You can take this knowledge to your doctor and be one step closer to an accurate diagnosis.
Other symptoms to look out for? Sensitivity to sound, worsening pain with activity (i.e. running up and down the stairs), flashing lights, numbness, tingling on one side of the body, or speech disturbances (i.e. not be able to get all your words out during an attack) are all symptoms of migraine that you should pay attention to.
If you take this information to your doctor and still have challenges being heard, Dr. Crystal advises explaining your family history to your doctor. Have you tried every medication the pharmacy has to offer to no avail? It’s a good idea to explain this to your doctor as well. It may be time for a prescription medication.
“If you feel like you’re being dismissed or just told that you need to work on specific lifestyle triggers without being given medications, then you know it’s time to push a little bit more and look elsewhere,” Dr. Crystal adds.