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Thank you NetGalley and Dundum Press for providing an e-Arc in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis: Though viewed more often as a “women’s ailment”, migraines affect nearly 15 percent of the world’s population. In addition to the effect migraines have on the sufferers’ quality of life, they also carry an economic cost, felt especially in the form of lost work time. But by recognizing the problem and taking necessary action, migraine sufferers can take back control of their lives. 

This easy-to-read guide to migraine management answers all the most pressing questions of sufferers and those concerned for their health. Clinical neurologist Dr. Elizabeth Leroux explains what can predispose a person to experiencing migraines, what can trigger them, their phases, and the three recommended lines of treatment: lifestyle changes, crisis management, and preventative therapy. Emphasizing the need for good doctor-patient communication in a field where misunderstanding and frustration is too often the norm, this book is as much a tool for healthcare professionals as it is for migraine sufferers and their families.

Some you already know that I suffer from migraines. I’m not going to go into a lengthy whine about my situation except to say that I’ve had them since childhood and they eventually helped force me to leave a career I loved. Have no doubt: Migraines are an insidious and agonizing disease that often leaves its sufferers grasping at anything to relieve their suffering. As one of those people, I’m always interested when a new book comes out, hoping someone will come out with something new. Like many others before it, the book begins with a summary of different types of headaches: tension, cluster, migraines, etc. It covers everything from how a diagnosis is reached to the history of treatments (which were pretty nasty) and famous migraineurs. Dr. Leroux writes in a very matter of fact way which makes this book easy to read for the general public. It’s filled with graphs, charts, and tables which further helps the reader to understand the information she’s imparting. The book also has numerous photographs and anecdotal stories from migraineurs which helps illustrate what we go through. My problem with this book is there really isn’t anything new. I’ve pretty much read everything in here especially regarding treatments, in previous books. However, if you’ve recently gotten a diagnosis of migraine and haven’t read very much on the topic, or if you care about someone who suffers from migraines and are looking for some more information, this is a very good place to begin. While there’s nothing earth-shattering here, I still think it’s a good reference tool for anyone interested in learning more about the disease.

 

Over the years I’ve had people try to “help” by offering advice so I thought I’d take the opportunity to list a few things you should NEVER say to a migraineurs:

  1. “I get headaches too.” ~ While I will never negate anyone’s pain, a migraine is NOT just a headache. In addition to excruciating head pain which can last 4-72 hours, it often leaves you with nausea, vomiting, and extreme light and noise sensitivity.
  2. “Do something to take your mind off it.” ~ Take my word for it. Migraine pain doesn’t go away no matter how much you try to ignore it or distract yourself. Physical activity tends to make it worse.
  3. “You should stop ______.” Most migraineurs know what their triggers are. Yes, many of us need to limit the amounts of chocolate, alcohol, and caffeine we consume, but what about outside causes like hormones and weather? It’s a little more difficult to control those.
  4. “You don’t look sick.” ~ I don’t think any further explanation is needed.
  5. “It’s all in your head. ~ Ditto.
  6. “At least they can’t kill you.” ~ The problem is migraines can cause people to lose their jobs, drop out of school, and lose their friends and significant others. In rare cases migraines are associated with stroke, and there have been many instances where sufferers have lost all hope and attempted or committed suicide.
  7. “I wish I could stay home all the time like you.” Really? So you’d enjoy spending hours upon hours curled up in a dark room with ice packs, or on your knees in front of the toilet vomiting uncontrollably? I think not.
  8. “It can’t hurt that bad.” Yes actually. It can. While migraine pain differs for sufferers, the best way I can describe mine is that it feels as though someone has shoved an ice pick straight through my eye.
  9. “Take a pill.” ~ Most migraineurs take preventative medication daily. The problem is that many of these medications have some nasty side effects. If you’re lucky enough to find one that is tolerable and works for you, the benefits may stop after being on it for awhile. And what works for one person may not work for another.
  10. “You just need to learn how to handle stress better.” ~ This last one is my personal favorite. Although stress is a common trigger, it’s not what actually causes a migraine. Telling someone who’s in pain to relax and de-stress, is not only unhelpful, but it may actually make things worse.

If someone you know and care about suffers from migraines and you truly wish to understand and help them, the best thing you can do is to educate yourself by reading a book like Dr. Leroux’s. Also, let them know you’re happy to ease their pain whether it’s listening to them vent, watching their children, or even bringing them a home-cooked meal. Believe me. Actions speak much louder than what you think is helpful advice.

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