The Costly Impact of Chronic Migraines
Patients suffering from migraine pain can feel the effects not only physically, but also through the loss of work, family time and personal day-to-day pleasures.
Migraines cost American businesses over $13 billion annually. Many sufferers will miss more than a week of work every year due to their migraines alone. A serious impairment in the ability to perform daily tasks is reported by 39% of migraine patients. More than half experience a more complete loss of function and require bed rest to deal with the pain. Fewer than one in ten migraine patients do not suffer from this disabling effect.
Patients who report intense, frequent and debilitating headache pain are often found to have a migraine disorder. At National Headache Institute, our specialty is treating migraines effectively in cases where patients have been unable to obtain relief from prior treatments.
Migraine headache disorders are as many as three times more common in women than in men. There appears to be a link between fluctuating female hormones and the occurrence of migraine symptoms. These hormonal changes are probably responsible for menstrual migraines. Upwards of 60 percent of women suffering from migraines report an increased onset during their menstrual cycle.
The majority of people with migraine disorders are not receiving medical care. This fact contributes to misdiagnoses, ill-advised self-prescribed treatments and the overuse of medication that can lead to increased symptom frequencies.
Disorders also associated with migraine headaches include depression, sleep disruptions, anxiety, epilepsy and stroke. Migraines and related disorders can be treated with similar medications and share many traits.
The Four Phases Of Migraines
The major phases of a migraine headache are the prodrome phase, the aura phase, the headache phase and the resolution phase. Most, but not all, headache patients experience these same phases in that order.
Prodrome phase symptoms precede the migraine by up to 24 hours and are experienced by 60% of migraine patients. The symptoms, which signal an oncoming headache, may include mood shifts, increased yawning and thirst, bloating, neck pain, excessive urination, constipation and diarrhea. Increased sensitivity to lights and sounds is also common.
The aura phase is experienced by about 15% of migraine patients. The appearance of aura in migraine patients usually assures the onset of a headache. The aura phase can last as long as an hour. Visual auras are the most common, and can include the patient seeing flashing or shimmering lights. Other neurological symptoms such as hemisparesis and paresthesias, which are unpleasant sensations of abnormal numbness, tingling or burning, are known to accompany auras before migraines.
The headache phase of a migraine begins as a unilateral episode, but it can graduate to a bilateral event if the pain moves to another section of the head. The associated throbbing and pulsing pain can increase due to cranial pressure. Coughing, sneezing and physical activity will increase the pain. Secondary symptoms that commonly appear are nausea, vomiting, dizziness, phonophobia and photophobia.
Most patients will seek bed rest in a quiet, dark room during this phase.
Exhaustion, mood shifts and irritability are the most common symptoms during the resolution phase.
Doctors and staff at National Headache Institute are experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of migraine headaches. We will provide a number of treatment options to combat your particular headache symptoms and causes. Call us today to schedule your first appointment.