Ruth Clausen started having severe headaches when she was 14 or 15 years old. At first they didn't happen very often, but as time went on, they became more frequent. The headaches usually started at night, waking her up with an excruciating pain in her head. She would also feel sick to her stomach and throw up. During her headaches, Ruth was extremely sensitive to smells and tastes, which could make her vomit. Her headaches tended to be triggered by changes in the weather. The headaches would last for as long as three days.
Getting a diagnosis of migraine was a long process for Ruth. At first, her doctors thought her headaches, which were not very frequent at the time, were due to the flu, hormones, or a food allergy. She was referred to a chiropractor to see whether the headaches were related to a problem in her neck. She also saw an allergist to investigate whether her headaches were allergy-related. It was Ruth's allergist who eventually put the pieces together and referred her to a neurologist (a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating conditions of the brain and nervous system), who diagnosed her with migraine. By this time Ruth was nearly 30.
Once the cause of the problem was identified, Ruth worked together with her neurologist to develop a plan for managing her migraine attacks. To learn more about how Ruth and her doctor found a treatment, see "Finding a migraine treatment that works."
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