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Dealing with chronic illness or chronic pain can be debilitating. For those who need to cope with it day to day, it can affect daily function and even impact your livelihood. Kristin Chenoweth knows a thing or two about this as she has been dealing with chronic migraines since the age of 25. The now 55-year-old has shared more about this topic and what has helped her live a predominantly pain-free life.

What is a migraine, and how can it impact you?

For those of us who are unfamiliar with what a migraine is and what it feels like, it can be difficult to sympathize with those who experience chronic migraines. The Mayo Clinic describes a migraine as a headache that can cause severe throbbing pain. It can also result in a pulsing sensation, usually on one side of the head. Symptoms that often accompany migraines include extreme sensitivity to light, sound, vomiting, and nausea. Difficulty speaking and numbness or tingling can also happen. Migraines tend to be genetic and can impact people of all ages. The duration of a migraine can range from a few hours to complete days. And the intensity is typically no joke. For some people, the pain can be so bad that it interferes with daily activities – according to research, this is around 2% of the population. 

Four stages of a migraine

According to the Mayo Clinic, a migraine can progress through four different stages. These stages are the prodrome, aura, attack, and post-drome. However, not everyone who experiences migraines goes through all four of these stages. 

The Mayo Clinic explains that the four stages present themselves in this way: 

  • Prodrome—This is the first stage, which happens a day or two before the migraine. Subtle changes occur as a warning that a migraine is coming. You may experience constipation, mood changes, food cravings, neck stiffness, increased urination, fluid retention, and frequent yawning.
  • Aura – Before or during the migraine, some people experience reversible symptoms of the nervous system, called an aura. These symptoms typically develop slowly, intensify over a few minutes, and can persist for up to an hour. Examples of these symptoms include visual disturbances like perceiving different shapes, bright spots, or light flashes. Other symptoms include vision impairment, tingling sensations in the arms or legs, weakness or numbness in the face or on one side of the body, and speech difficulties.
  • Attack—If not addressed, migraines can persist for 4 to 72 hours. Alongside the symptoms mentioned earlier, headaches during a migraine can involve throbbing pain on either or both sides of the head, heightened light, sound, smell, and touch sensitivity, feelings of nausea, and vomiting. 
  • Post-drome –Following a migraine attack, individuals may experience fatigue, fogginess, and an overall sense of depletion for as long as a day. Contrarily, some people have reported feeling uplifted. Quick head movements can trigger a headache for a brief moment afterward.

Kristin Chenoweth’s experience with chronic migraines

According to Women’s Health, Kristin appeared at the Women’s Health, Health Lab in New York City. She spoke with Women’s Health executive editor, Abigail Cuffey, and Headache Centre of Hope founder Dr. Hope O’Brien, MD. During the Owning It panel, Kristin Chenoweth shared more about her experience dealing with chronic migraines. 

According to Women’s Health, Kristin explained that she has been nearly free of chronic migraines since she began putting her well-being first. Kristin expressed,

“I always assumed because I was a performer and most of the roles I take are very active, that would be enough,” she explains. “But there’s really something to be said about your workout and hydration. Those two things, combined with my [Botox] treatment—I can really tell the difference.”

According to Healthline, Botox injections can be effective as a preventative medication or treatment. In this situation, the physician administers Botox injections to the head and neck muscles every 3 months.

Like a jackhammer to the head

Kristen Chenoweth told Women’s Health that, at 25 years old, she began experiencing painful, chronic migraines. She says it felt like she had a jackhammer in her head. People who experience migraines report that triggers are often stress and flashing bright lights. Due to the nature of her career, these triggers were all around Kristin at that stage of her life. Consequently, her migraines became so bad that she thought she would have to retire.

According to Women’s Health, she expressed, “I got a migraine in the middle of the show. At intermission, my understudy was put on, and I was out of that show for three weeks. In my world, that’s fireable,” she said. 

What Kristin Chenoweth does to manage her symptoms 

According to Women’s Health, something that helps Kristin deal with her symptoms and chronic pain from previous injuries is hot yoga. In fact, she dedicates three days out of the week to attending her sessions. In addition, Kristin is eating plant-based protein, which she has expressed makes her feel better. She also drinks plenty of water and refills her water bottle about four times a day. As previously mentioned, Kristin gets Botox injected into her head and neck muscles, which can be done every three months in helping to prevent migraines. 

Migraine treatment can include:

According to Healthline, your physician may develop a treatment plan that may involve a combination of:

  • Lifestyle modifications such as stress management and avoidance of migraine triggers
  • Over-the-counter pain or migraine medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Prescription migraine medications for daily use to prevent migraines and reduce their frequency
  • Prescription migraine medications for acute use to prevent severe attacks and alleviate symptoms
  • If you experience nausea or vomiting, prescription medications that help to address these symptoms
  • Hormone therapy if migraines appear to be linked to your menstrual cycle
  • Counseling
  • Alternative therapies such as meditation, acupressure, or acupuncture

The bottom line

Making changes to your lifestyle can certainly help in dealing with migraines. Here are more ways to manage those pesky headaches effectively. Talk to your trusted healthcare professional to discuss your treatment options for chronic migraines and pain, so you do not have to live every day in pain and discomfort. 

My references

MAIN IMAGE CREDIT: kchenoweth/instagram


Tamlyn Bingle

Tamlyn Bingle

With an ever growing interest and appetite for sustainability, Tamlyn Bingle is an ambitious writer, her objective is to always share knowledgeable and insightful information in the written space. Tamlyn also enjoys living a healthy and active lifestyle, appreciative of nature and all creatures great and small.


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