8 reasons to care about migraine awareness
Don’t have migraine?
Every June your eyes glaze over and your mind goes numb. You tune out and wait for July.
Maybe you’ve never experienced migraine and don’t think you know anyone who has it. I know how hard it is to pay attention to things that don’t affect your own life. We’re all busy. It seems like we’re pulled in a million different directions all the time. There’s only so much you can do. Sometimes it feels like the problem is too big.
Even if you’ve never had a headache…
#1. Discover the truth.
It’s not just about migraine. Migraine gets a lot of attention, but there are over 200 different headache disorders. Most doctors get little, if any, headache disorders training in medical school. Plus there are fewer than 500 board certified headache specialists in the whole country.
#2. Know your risk factors.
Some headache disorders are acquired. You never know who might develop a headache disorder at some point in their lifetime. Knowing the risks can reduce the chances that you or a loved one will be next.
#3. Get treatment early.
Most wait entirely too long to get evaluated and treated. Headache as infrequent as once a week may need treatment. Research proves that early intervention prevents more serious complications. What you learn this June may help someone you love get treatment early.
#4. Be a good friend.
Think you don’t know someone with migraine or other headache disorder? Think again. There are an estimated 37 million people in the U.S. who meet the criteria of a migraine diagnosis. At least half don’t even know they have migraine. With a population of around 318 million, that’s 1 migraine patient for every 8 people. Do you know 8 people? There’s a good chance one of them has migraine and maybe doesn’t even know that the problem and that it can be treated.
#5. Protect someone’s job.
When treatment is delayed, patients are at an increased risk of developing complications that can result in daily or near-daily headache pain that reduces their quality of life and may put their jobs at risk. Many chronic patients must apply for disability benefits because they can no longer work. Much of this could be prevented through early intervention and appropriate job-site accommodations.
#6. Support our troops.
There has been an explosion of service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who now suffer from post-traumatic headaches. Many are disabled and face obstacles in trying to obtain service-connected disability benefits. Few are getting appropriate treatment. Putting pressure on legislators is one of the best ways to help them.
#7. Protect a child.
Even small children can experience migraine. Can you recognize the signs in a child who might not be old enough to verbalize the symptoms? Plus, new research shows that early childhood trauma increases the lifetime risk of developing migraine. Early intervention for at-risk kids just might save them a lifetime of pain and misery. If you’re a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, childcare provider, teacher, school nurse, kids’ sports team coach, Sunday School teacher, or anyone who works with young children — you need to pay attention.
#8. Save a life.
Think headaches are no big deal? Migraine can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, Parkinson’s, obesity, and even suicide. Sleep disorders, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, depression, and anxiety are frequently seen in migraine patients. Some headache disorders are so severe that patients attempt suicide out of desperation to end the pain. Some of them are successful. Some of them were my friends.