MIGRAINE HEADACHES

 

Migraine headaches are one of the most painful experiences that a person may have. It is often referred to as the “invisible disease” because it cannot be seen and therefor is often not believed by others. Migraine headaches cause a severe loss of quality of life.

 

Migraine headaches are a neurobiological disease. Although much about headaches still is not understood, researchers think migraines may be caused by functional changes in the trigeminal nerve system, a major pain pathway in the nervous system, and by imbalances in brain chemicals, including serotonin, which plays a regulatory role for pain messages transmitted through this pathway.  Migraines may last for several hours, may occur as often as several times daily and can be completely debilitating. Typical treatments for these headaches are prescription drugs and their accompanying adverse side effects.

 

The leading theory on causes of migraine is one or more events that trigger a chemical reaction within the brain. There are hundreds of factors that trigger migraine such as stress, foods, smoking, alcohol, environmental factors, depression, and certain medications.

 

Nearly 40 million Americans and one in eight people throughout the world suffer migraine headaches. Migraine is a serious condition that impacts society and the effects of migraine headache pain are immense. Following are statistics provided by the American Headache Society and the American Migraine Foundation:

 

  • Approximately 1 billion people suffer occasional or ‘episodic’ migraine headaches.

  • 75% of migraine sufferers are women (Cindy McCain, wife of Sen. John McCain is a migraine sufferer and was the keynote speaker at a past American Headache Society convention where she offered a plea for more research for new and better treatments to help the world’s sufferers)

  • 4% of the population are chronic migraine sufferers. A person who suffers 15 or more migraine headaches each month for three consecutive months is classified as a sufferer of ‘Chronic Migraine Headache’

  • 50% of the chronic sufferers do not respond to any medication. (A person who does not respond to available headache treatments is considered ‘refractory’ or ‘intractable’)

  • 36% of returning War veterans suffer from migraine

  • It is estimated headaches are responsible for up to one million days of school and one hundred fifty million days of work missed per year in the United States alone  

  • Each year, it is estimated time lost from work due to headache costs the United States up to $17 billion dollars in absenteeism, lost productivity and medical expenses. Employers lose approximately $4,400 in productivity from each migraine sufferer each year

  • One in four families has a family member who suffers migraine headaches and 50% of sufferers have a family history of migraines