My mom used to get migraines. The doctor said my dad caused them. Well, it’s hard to say, but I think that it is totally possible. I think she had migraines from the stress he put on her, which is what the doctor told him! I also say this is true because after my dad passed away, my mom didn’t have migraines.

What are migraines, anyway? And why do people get them? Hah. Even the Migraine Research Foundation  (MRF) doesn’t have a definitive answer. While different people experience painful headaches, some people do not. I don’t feel any pain at all. The causes vary, too. Hormones, stress, food, medications, or heredity—the experts don’t really know!

Here’s one thing:  The CDC statistics show that at least twice as many women get them as men. The good news is (from the same source) that for men and women, the incidence of migraines decreases as one ages, with the decades between 18 and 44 years showing the highest prevalence.

Since we don’t know the causes exactly, we can still look at statistics. Did you know migraines are the third most prevalent illness in the world? The MRF says that 39 million Americans and 1 billion people worldwide suffer from migraines. No way! Yes, way.

I had one yesterday. In my case, my vision went a little wonky, but I felt no pain at all. And I know it was a migraine because I have been diagnosed with them. I’ve only had a few in the last ten years, but I pay attention to them. I went to the Emergency Room the first time I had one!

Stress? Yes. Stupid stress, like a new dog. House guests. A full work calendar. Clutter. Learning new dance steps. Oh, come on. These are mild stressors! I know, but they’re additive, and they’re real in their own way. The body doesn’t know the difference, now does it? It’s not that smart. One of my friends got shingles during her divorce. Another breast cancer.

Meltdowns are meltdowns.

If you’re a woman and you’re between 18 and 64, you’re twice as likely as a man to have migraines. Migraines often go undiagnosed, as in, “It’s just a bad headache.” I’d get checked. Also, heed your stressors and meltdowns.  They’re usually a sign you need to slow down.

Decompress and know what anxiety can do. It’s a killer. Ask the heart disease people.

Learn what can help you manage the pain after you’re in the migraine, but also figure out what the “triggers” are in your case. I have a friend who cannot have ice in her drinks. Another can’t eat chocolate! That’s a bummer. Either way, heading off migraines before they settle in for a day or two can help a lot—and avoid a trip to the Emergency Room.