(SD-SP) If you ever had a migraine attack, then you’re likely very familiar with how debilitating it can be. Yet, there are many misconceptions about the severity, prevalence, and treatment for migraine disease. Here are three common misconceptions and what people living with migraine disease want others to know:

Misconception: Migraine Is Just Another Word for Headache

People who experience migraine attacks know that symptoms can feel much more intense than what many people think of when they imagine a typical headache. “While head pain is often a major component of a migraine attack, the intensity is usually much more severe,” said Thomas Smith, MD, Chief Medical Officer of BioDelivery Sciences International, a company dedicated to driving innovative solutions for the treatment of serious and debilitating conditions like migraine. “Further, migraine attacks can also involve visual disturbances like aura, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, extreme sensitivity to sound, light, touch and smell, and tingling or numbness in the extremities or face.” While some people may be able to participate in daily activities like work or school while having a headache, people who are having a migraine attack may not be able to get out of bed, for example, depending on how severe the attack is and how long it lasts.

Misconception: Migraine Disease is Uncommon

Because migraine disease is sometimes minimized and under-diagnosed, it can seem like there are not that many people who have it and may not be thought of the same way as other diseases such as heart disease, for example. However, there actually are 39 million people – including children – living with migraine disease in the United States. Put another way, that is nearly 1 in 4 households, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. In fact, it’s the third most prevalent disease in the world.

Misconception: Nothing Can Be Done for Migraine Attacks

There are several classes of therapies available to treat migraine attacks, including: NSAIDs, triptans, ergot alkaloids, ditans, CGRP antagonists and anti-nausea medications. “Therapies for migraine disease are continuously evolving,” said. Dr. Smith. “While some products have even been approved for the prevention of migraine attacks, these therapies do not work for everyone and cannot be deemed a ‘cure.’ It is still possible to have breakthrough attacks, so innovative acute therapy is also needed. Since no one experiences an attack in the exact same way, it is good to speak with a neurologist or headache specialist to find the appropriate treatment for you.”

The hope is that with greater awareness and advocacy, these and other misconceptions about migraine disease will fade and people who are living with migraine disease can be met with more compassion and understanding.