Migraine Mythology

There are many common misconceptions about migraines that can make it harder for sufferers to get a good diagnosis and treatment.

1 – Migraines are all in the head, an overreaction to a normal headache, etc. In other words they are not real.

False.  Migraines are a biological primary headache disorder.  Migraine pain is not always confined to the head, though that is typically where it is the worst.

2 – The cause of migraines is known.

Unfortunately, this is false  There are a number of interesting theories being brought forward, but so far, no single, definite biological cause of migraines has been discovered.

3 – All migraine sufferers have the same symptoms.

Also false.  This is one reason why migraines so hard to diagnose, more so if the patient’s doctor is only aware of the most common symptoms.

4 – A doctor can usually tell if headache pain is a migraine or not.

Not all the time.  The wide array of symptoms that often accompany a migraine headache can make it difficult to diagnose, especially if the patient is not open with their doctor about all their symptoms.

5 – Migraines can be cured.

Though I wish this were true, sadly, it’s not.  Once they’ve been properly diagosed many migraineurs still have to spend a lot of time and energy to managing their migraines through medication, natural/homeopathic remedies, even diet and lifestyle changes. Each of the many available coping methods work differently for each migraine sufferer, so there is not just one way to treat all migraneurs.

6 – Only Women get migraines.

Although it may seem true, and women migraineurs do outnumber the men by 3 to 1, there is no evidence of a sex-linked cause.

7 – Only adults get migraines.

Migraines occur across all age groups there have been adolescents, children, and even infants diagnosed with migraines.

8 – Every headache a migraineur has is a migraine

Not true.  Migraine sufferers suffer from plain old fashioned sinus, tension, or stress headaches just like anyone else.

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Migraines – A High Price To Pay

Face it, migraines are not cheap. Recently, there have been studies showing that these chronic and debilitating headaches are costly not only for those that suffer from them, but also for their families and their employers too.

The people that suffer from migraine headaches (sometimes called Migraineurs) experience a huge loss in their quality of life, not to mention the financial burden. Migraine sufferers and their families spend, typically, more than 70 percent more for health care than families blessed not to have a migraineur. Adding insult to injury, migraine sufferers often suffer from lost wages due to the time away from work. It is unfortunate, but when it comes time for a raise or promotion, migraineurs take a hit because of the percieved “unreliability” that results from their condition and attempts to get treatment for their migraines.

Employers don’t escape the expense trap either. According to some estimates US employers spend in excess of twenty-four billion dollars a year for migraine related costs. Absenteesim, short-term disability and workmans comp account for roughly half that amount. If “presenteeism” (loss of productivity while suffering a migraine “on the job”) cost are included the estimates skyrocket.

The largest direct cost of migraines for US employers is outpatient care (~$6.2 billion annually) with prescription drugs a close second at roughly $5.2 billion per year. Inpatient care and emergency costs make up the remaining percentage of the $12.7 billion total.

But that is just the United States slice of the migraine pie. In the United Kingdom alone more than 25 million work or school days were lost last year becuase of migraines. The costs of absenteeism and lost productivity have reached the point that many companies are creating programs to encourage employees suffering from migraines to seek treatment.

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