June happens to be Migraine Awareness Month. The title of the month is aptly named as there are many in the public (including physicians) who have heard of migraine but are not AWARE of migraine. People with migraine are often misdiagnosed as having other types of headaches or even tossed aside by their employers and physicians stating that “it’s all in their head.” Migraine patients will tend to suffer in silence as they feel no one believes them due to the lack of awareness of aspects of migraine.

Here are some important facts about migraine that you may have been unaware of:

1. Migraine is common — 36 million Americans suffer. This includes about 20% of women
2. It is the most common neurologic problem (hence why my colleagues and I are so busy)
3. It is one of the leading disabling problems in the world.
4. It is estimated that 11-13% of migraine sufferers will miss one day of work within two weeks
5. It is also estimated that migraine costs the US up to $30 BILLION annually in lost productivity and other costs
6. Migraine sufferers will miss twice as many days of social activities than work days (meaning they are not faking this problem)
7. The longer you wait to treat a single attack, the greater the chance of migraine becoming more frequent.
8. As well, the more migraines you have, the more you will have
9. The most common episodic headache complaint to the primary care doctor is migraine
10. A study over 14 years ago concluded that the vast majority of “sinus headaches” are actually migraine
11. According to a study looking at those with migraine and their significant others, 65-70% of migraine sufferers will miss housework and social activities within one month’s time

And the most important of all is that THERE IS HOPE. Those with migraine should not be treated as if they are faking headaches or simply depressed. There are plenty of medicines and non-medicinal treatments to reduce the attacks of migraine. Migraine is a chronic disorder of the brain with episodic flare-ups that cause debilitating problems for many people. If you feel that you or someone you love has not been properly treated or assessed, please schedule an appointment with one of our providers. We do not give up easily and neither should you.

Chad Whyte, MD, FAHS