One in four Americans experiences migraines, which are severe headaches often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, sensory sensitivity, and visual phenomena such as seeing flashing lights or vision loss. Lawrence C. Newman, MD, director of the Division of Headache and professor in the Department of Neurology at NYU Langone, says the most important thing for family members or friends of people who have migraines is to be patient and supportive.
“You have to be sympathetic because the person who’s having the migraine does not want to be ruining the plans, nor do they want to be in excruciating pain either,” Dr. Newman tells TIME.
Dr. Newman also cautions well-intended family and friends against offering unsolicited advice to their loved ones with migraines. Instead of suggesting their own solutions, family and friends should help the person follow the treatment plan set by his or her physician. Even better, they can learn what triggers a person’s migraines and help him or her to avoid such stimuli.
“If the person has light and sound sensitivity, don’t be banging around the house and putting silverware away in the midst of a bad attack of migraine,” Dr. Newman says.
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