Headaches and migraines are common throughout the world, with many people experiencing one or both to some degree during their lifetime. The latter, migraine, is very different as this condition is far more than ‘just’ a headache.
There are different types of migraine and they may be experienced rarely or frequently (chronic migraine). Migraines can be severely debilitating, rendering the individual almost or entirely unable to continue their day to day activities during an attack. These episodes may last an hour or several hours, and with chronic migraines, there may be three or more days a week in which they’re experienced. Some people also experience migraine ‘postdrome’, with other symptoms such as nausea and fatigue persevering for hours after the migraine itself has gone.
My Migraine Experience
In recent years, ever since my 2015 surgery that sent my health downhill, I’ve experienced chronic migraines, with attacks on average 5 days a week. The migraines themselves involve severe eye pain first and foremost, visual aura, sometimes tinnitus, pressure in the head and nausea, plus postdrome after many attacks. I’ve also had cluster headaches (very unpleasant) and an episode recently that was too strange to easily explain.
It appears my migraines may be the result of widespread inflammation, caused by an autoimmune foreign body response to a surgical implant.
I don’t think I could cope without the use of prescription Sumatriptan. I’m also in the early stages of trialling Amitriptyline for nerve damage-related issues; this drug is also used for migraine prophylaxis, though whether it can minimally reduce the frequency of my migraines is yet to be seen. The time lost from migraines is significant and it has a knock-on effect to mental health.
Headache & Migraine Awareness Month : June 2020
June is Migraine Awareness Month, which is a great opportunity to share our experiences and bring light to this incredibly debilitating condition.
Here are 15 surprising facts about migraines and their prevalence.
1. Migraine is a debilitating neurological disease that’s thought to affect around 1 billion people worldwide to some degree
2. The term migraine originates from the Greek ‘hemicrania’, translating as ‘half the skull’ (imikrania, ημικρανία). Hippocrates detailed the symptoms of migraines in 400 BC and the Greek term was employed by a Greek physician.
3. Migraine is the 3rd most common illness worldwide, affecting more people than epilepsy, asthma and diabetes combined.
4. Migraines can affect anyone of any age, including children, though they often begin during puberty and predominantly affect those between 35 and 45 years of age.
5. There’s a gender imbalance, with estimates suggesting migraine affects 3 times more women than men.
6. Studies suggest there are 3,000 migraine occurrences for every million people in the population, equating to more than 190,000 individual migraine attacks in the UK each day.
7. Chronic migraine is estimated to affect around 2% of the world’s population.
8. Other mental health issues such as depression and anxiety are considerably more common among migraineurs than the healthy population.
9. It wasn’t until 1988 that headaches and migraines were first classified by the International Headache Society in detail. The diagnostic criteria in the 2013 edition, the IHCD-3 (the International Classification of Headache Disorders 3rd ed), is referred to globally by many clinicians and the WHO.
10. The greatest advance in migraine treatment in the latter 20th Century (1990s) was with the emergence of triptans; the first medication, Sumatriptan, was developed in Stevenage in the UK.
11. Migraine is considered to be the 7th most debilitating of all diseases, resulting is an average of 2.9 lost years of life from disability. Among neurological disorders, it’s the foremost cause of disability.
12. Research estimates that 25 million work or school days are lost each year as a result of migraines.
13. The financial impact of migraine is considerable, with absenteeism thought to cost around £2.25 billion each year within the UK and with a cost of £150 million to the NHS each year on doctor visits and medications.
14. The World Health Organisation classes severe migraine among the most debilitating illnesses on par with the likes of active psychosis, quadriplegia and dementia.
15. Despite its prevalence and impact, migraine research is the least publicly funded of all neurological illnesses comparative to its economic effect.
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Do you suffer with migraines? Do any of these stats and facts surprise you?