Black History of Health: Serena Williams
Serena Williams is inarguably one of the greatest tennis players of all time. Before anyone knew her name, though, she showed her affinity for the sport at the early age of four. Though she excelled in various national tournaments, Serena’s parents made the effort to balance her education with her games. As such, it wasn’t until she was 16 that she made her professional debut.
Through constant work, Serena won her first Tier 1 title in 1999 and continued to improve exponentially. Over the course of her illustrious career, she attained the status of Number one multiple times and was one of the highest-paid female athletes. She also holds a record 23 Grand Slam singles titles.
As hard as she fought on the court, nobody suspected that she was fighting a different kind of battle – migraines. It wasn’t until an interview with ‘Today’ in 2020, that Serena revealed that she’d been dealing with migraine headaches for over a decade.
She stated that “Migraine isn’t a knee injury — it’s something you can’t physically see.” This led to her hiding her pain from even her loved ones as she didn’t want it to sound like an excuse. Fortunately, she has found more effective ways to treat and manage her migraines since then.
What Are Migraines?
A migraine is a neurological condition that is classified as a primary headache. This classification means that an underlying illness isn’t causing the problem. While throbbing pain on one side of the head and nausea are characteristic of a migraine, there is actually a long list of possible symptoms that you can experience.
Before the start of a migraine, there can be irritability, trouble focusing, and muscle stiffness. During a migraine, you’re more likely to have sensitivity to light, nausea, fatigue, and loss of appetite. A migraine may last for a few hours or even days.
It’s estimated that up to 12% of Americans are dealing with chronic migraines and can be affected by the condition monthly or more frequently. Though anyone can develop migraines, you’re more likely to have the condition if you have family members with it, if you were born female, if you smoke, or if you’re between the ages of 15 and 55.
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How The Condition Is Diagnosed
There are no specific diagnostic tests for migraines so your doctor will conduct a thorough assessment to determine if you meet certain requirements.
Before diagnosing you, however, they will likely request different tests to ensure that your headaches aren’t being caused by