Can You Get Migraines Later in Life?

Can You Get Migraines Later in Life?

Migraine, unlike so many other conditions, tends to become less likely with age. For most people, migraine begins during adolescence, peaks during their 40s, and then becomes less of a problem in the following years. That’s not a hard and fast rule, though, and some people do continue to have migraines into their 60s or even develop the problem later in life. 

At all three locations of Apex Medical Center, our experts treat people with chronic migraine pain. A migraine is more than a headache and can affect your life in surprising and unwelcome ways. If it’s a condition you’ve been dealing with for most of your life, it’s one thing, but when you develop migraine as an older person, it can be particularly harrowing. 

Triggers

Many people who have migraine headaches can identify specific triggers, like certain chemical smells, red wine, or even exercise. Once you know your triggers, you may be able to avoid them and have fewer episodes largely. Unfortunately, your triggers can change over time, so that you may develop new ones. 

For people who are in their 50s or 60s, alcohol, pain, and smoking are the most common triggers. Two of those are avoidable; pain may not be. 

In your 40s, the most likely trigger is hormonal fluctuations. Since more women experience migraines than men, and perimenopause usually begins in your late 40s, it makes sense that migraine pain tends to peak during that decade. 

Differences in symptoms 

Along with having a different set of triggers later in life, you may also have a different experience of the migraine itself. In older people, sensitivity to light and sound is less common than in younger people. Additionally, it’s more unusual for older people to have nasal congestion, a feeling of fullness in their ears, or teary eyes. 

Some younger people have visual auras as a symptom, but it is more common for older people to experience auras. Since a visual aura can also be a stroke symptom, you should discuss it with your doctor. 

One other interesting difference in symptoms between younger and older people with migraine is that in older people, the pain is often bilateral. One common description of migraine headaches is that the pain is usually only on one side of the head, but in older people, it’s more often on both sides. 

Treatment 

A couple of different things make getting treatment for migraine headaches different for older people. One is that your sensitivity to medication can change with time. If you’ve had migraine for a long time and it has persisted into your later years, you may need to discuss your dosage with your doctor. 

Another consideration is medication interactions. Older people are more likely to be taking other medications. If you’re experiencing a new migraine, you should talk to your doctor about all of the medicines you take.

Although it’s not common to develop a new migraine as an older adult, it is possible. And, though some people do have fewer migraine episodes later in life, it’s not unusual for migraine headaches to continue. Triggers can change, and treatments should be approached with care.

If you’re having headaches, schedule an appointment at one of the Apex Medical Center locations. Our providers are experts in pain management, and we want to help you live with less migraine pain. 



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