People who have episodic migraine that is not adequately treated are three times more likely to progress to chronic migraine than those who have an effective treatment for episodic migraine, according to a recent study. In Keep Episodic Migraine From Progressing to Chronic on Migraine.com, I beg everyone with episodic migraine to see a doctor and also dispel some myths and misunderstandings about migraine treatment. Episodic migraine is bad enough, but chronic migraine is hell. If you have episodic migraine that’s not well-managed, please, please seek better treatment — no one should have to live with the misery of chronic migraine.
What I don’t mention in that Migraine.com post is how close the topic is to my own heart. My 16-year-old niece has had chronic daily headache since she was 11 and has episodic migraine attacks all her life, which have gotten more frequent as she’s gotten older. Whenever I see news about episodic migraine progressing to chronic — or chronic migraine worsening over time — I wonder how my niece’s migraine will progress. Everything I know about this illness points to the likelihood of her symptoms worsening without effective intervention. The thought breaks my heart.
Imagining my bright, driven, kind niece as sick as I have been makes me weep. I’m hopeful that her early diagnosis and the advances of migraine treatment in the last 20 years will mean she never has to endure what I have. I’d like my experience to be a cautionary tale that leads her and her parents to treat her migraines aggressively before they spiral out of control and become even harder to corral. There’s no guarantee her migraine trajectory will be the same as mine, but there’s also no guarantee it won’t. I’m afraid the odds aren’t in her favor.