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Women more affected by migraines than men: Calgary neurologist

June is Migraine Awareness Month. Migraines are the third most-common medical condition in the world.

A Calgary neurologist says men are often under-diagnosed with migraines, although women are more often affected.

METRO FILE

A Calgary neurologist says men are often under-diagnosed with migraines, although women are more often affected.

Erin Johnson says she would do pretty much anything to cure her migraines.

The Calgary woman started getting debilitating headaches in her mid-30s and experiences them frequently, sometimes multiple times a month.

“It’s just horrific,” Johnson said. “You’re not living, you're just trying to do anything to get rid of your headache. It gets pretty dark.”

Sometimes, they last for five days.

“To the point I’m vomiting or just laying in bed in the dark with an ice pack on my head,” Johnson said. “You’re not able to work, you’re not able to take care of your kids, your house – anything.”

Despite having a good support system, Johnson said people still tell her to 'get over it' sometimes.

"It's really frustrating, because you can't see a migraine," she said.

Migraines are the third most-common medical condition in the world, according to neurologist Dr. Elizabeth Leroux, who is raising awareness for Migraine Awareness Month this June.

“It’s a real condition which is actually caused by chemical and electrical problems in the brain,” Leroux told Metro. “Depending on how many attacks you have, you can have different levels of disability.” 

They also tend to affect women more than men once puberty hits, mostly because of hormones, according to Leroux.  

“We see a lot of women in our clinics, but we see a lot of men as well and they tend to be under-diagnosed,” she said. 

She suggests starting a diary if you are being plagued by headaches accompanied by other symptoms, such as nausea or intolerance to light.

“Write down when you have a migraine, look up your symptoms, and once you have an idea of your frequency and triggers, you can start adapting your lifestyle and talk to your health-care provider,” Leroux said, adding there are lots of apps that will help you keep track.

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