GETTING MIGRAINE: HEREDITY, MIGRAINOUS PERSONALITY

Posted on July 7th, 2011, by admin

Heredity There is no doubt that migraine is a familial disorder. Estimates of how frequently it runs in families will depend on how widely the term ‘family’ is extended. Even restricted to close (first-degree) relatives such as parents, siblings and children, it is still over 50 per cent more common within than outside the family. Indeed, a positive family history of migraine is further evidence that a headache sufferer has migraine.The precise way in which migraine is inherited is not as simple as, for example, the inheritance of blood groups. Nor is it scientific to say that headaches are inherited, but only the tendency to have certain types of headaches.Other familial disorders, such as allergy and epilepsy, have been said to be commoner in migrainous families but there is no scientific proof of this.
The migrainous personalitySince the eighteenth century, doctors have thought that it was the ‘upper’ strata of society that suffered more from migraine. In those days it would only have been the better-off that could have afforded doctors’ fees. Recent scientific studies indicate that migraine attacks occur in all ranks, irrespective of intelligence. The reason why the myth has persisted for two centuries is because of the biased selection of patients that doctors see; there is no doubt that only a minority of migraine sufferers go to their doctor. These groups are more likely to be those with more money, time, or intelligence. This applies to other ‘complainers’ and not simply migraine sufferers.It has also been thought that hard-working, conscientious perfectionists are more likely to suffer from migraine, a subjective view that migrainous doctors find hard to dispute. The objective studies that have been done do not confirm that one type of personality is more prone than others and show that migraine occurs just as frequently in people who are neither obsessional nor compulsive.There is no doubt that some migraine sufferers are aggressive, demanding, and distrustful. An explanation for this could well be that any person suffering from repeated headaches is likely to become ‘neurotic’ or depressed. It can be difficult to decide whether these characteristics are the result or the cause of migraine.
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