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Posts Tagged ‘neurological disease’

What is a Migraine?

What is a migraine? There are many, many answers to that question, but before I go any further, I want to be clear:
A migraine is NOT a headache, even though, for most sufferers, it involves head pain. But understand that a person can have a migraine without the head pain. Childhood migraines may not involve head pain.
It is not : a ploy to get out of work, school, house work, making dinner, homework, or other obligations. It is NOT “not tonight, dear, I have a headache.”
Having a migraine is NOT the fault of the migraineur.
Migraine is a disease. It is a neurological disease just as valid as diabetes, heart disease, epilepsy, or cancer. It is characterized by an abnormal response to certain triggers (certain foods, barometric pressure, stress, flashing lights, or loud noise). These triggers don’t cause the same response in people without migraine. In fact, one could say that migraine and seizure disorders are related in that both of these diseases involve triggers that result in an attack. This is why some anti-convulsants prevent or control migraines.

It is a combination of varying symptoms that are not necessarily the same in each migraineur. Not all migraine attacks involve, for example, an aura. Only 15-20% of migraineurs report an aura. An aura is a sensory disturbance the heralds the migraine attack. Some of these disturbances are visual. Migraine sufferers with aura relate seeing flashing lights, jagged lines, or a decrease in the visual field. Others report auditory hallucinations, abnormal smells or tastes.

Some auras can easily be missed. For me, the right side of my nose starts to run or I suddenly become sensitive to sound or light, lose my appetite, or get irritable.
Migraine has a genetic link. Eighty percent of migraine sufferers have a relative who also has migraine.

Migraine is prevalent. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, migraine affect 30 million Americans. Migraine affects 22 million women, 8 million men, and It ranks in the top 20 world’s most disabling illnesses. Every 10 seconds in the US, someone goes to the emergency room with headache or migraine. One in four households has someone who suffers from migraine. Ten percent of children have migraines.

Migraine is costly. According to the Migraine Research Foundation ., migraine costs American employers $13 billion a year due to more than 113 million lost work days by migraine or headache sufferers. M.A.G.U.M estimates there to be 150 million lost work days for the cost to industry and the health care system of $5-17 billion annually.

Migraine is a chronic, progressive neurological disease. For a subset of migraneurs the disease becomes chronic resulting in attacks increasing frequencyuntil migraine pain and associated symptoms are almost daily. Twelve million suffer from chronic migraine (having more than 15 migraine attacks a month). I am one of those.

Migraine research is underfunded. In an article about funding for migraine and headache research in Europe, authors Olesen, Lekander, Andlin-Soboki and Jonnson stated that “Compared with societal costs, migraine received the least public funds amongst all brain disorders, i.e. 0.025%. ” (Cephalagia, September, 2007). Funding in the US is just as bad. Shapiro and Goadsby (2007) stated that: “an estimate of the mean annual federal funding for migraine research at~$13M. This sum comprises <.05% of the total current NIH budget of ~$28B.” To put this into perspective, asthma research funding from NIH is ~21 times greater than funding for migraine. However, the economic impact for migraine is ~27 times greater than that of asthma. Considering the prevalence of both migraine and asthma, migraine per patient funding is ~37 times less than asthma (Read full article here).

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