Q: Why discuss migraine in men, since more women have migraine?
A: Just because fewer men than women have migraine attacks does not mean that the condition should be ignored in men. Migraine can be controlled if accurately diagnosed and aggressively treated. It is important that both male and female migraine sufferers are educated about their condition and know that help is available.
Q: Is migraine different for men?
A: Yes, migraine may be very different for men, with the symptoms often resembling a sinus or allergy problem. When asked why they waited so long to seek treatment, many male migraine patients say it was because they thought their headaches were due to one of these conditions. In addition, men are also less likely to seek help for any health problem; many men with migraine simply ignore their attacks until they become so frequent that they interfere with work and social life. It continues to amaze me that so many men suffer from recurring disabling headaches without seeking medical help for the problem.
Q: Why are men less likely to see a doctor for their migraine?
A: Men are less likely to go to see a doctor for any condition. Men are more likely to self-diagnose their migraine as a sinus or allergy headache because of associated symptoms of tears forming in their eyes (eye-tearing) or nasal congestion in one nostril. Finally, since migraine still carries with it a certain social stigma, suggesting that individuals with migraine are more “stressed” or less able to handle stress, men may be more reluctant to seek treatment for migraine.
Q: Can migraine attacks have different symptoms in men?
A: Many of the typical symptoms of migraine attacks may be experienced inconsistently or not at all by men with migraine. They often experience a frontal headache and may have associated symptoms of nasal congestion in one nostril and tears forming in one eye (one-sided tearing). Men often experience irritability during their migraine attacks; but nausea, vomiting, or increased sensitivity to light and sound, as often experienced by women, are rare.
Q: How often is a sinus headache really a migraine?
A: One study of nearly 2,400 individuals with “sinus” headache suggested that nearly 88 percent had migraine or probable migraine. In this same study, 28 percent reported experiencing a migraine aura. An aura does not occur with a sinus headache. Many researchers believe that most people, especially men, would rather believe that they have a sinus headache than migraine because of the stigma associated with the latter. It is important that individuals receive an accurate diagnosis from their doctor because many people who incorrectly diagnose themselves with sinus headache end up using medications that may worsen migraine due to medication overuse.
Q: Can I have sinus congestion with a migraine attack?
A: Yes, you can experience sinus congestion with a migraine. For this reason, migraine is often wrongly diagnosed as a sinus headache. The sinus congestion associated with a migraine is frequently one-sided and is often accompanied by tears forming in one eye (one-sided tearing), a droopy eyelid, and sharp jabs of pain called ice-pick pains. These same symptoms may be found in other primary headache disorders, such as cluster headache and paroxysmal hemicrania.
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