The month of June is recognized as Migraine and Headache Awareness Month. It is a time to raise awareness and advocate recognition and treatment of this disabling disease. Healthcare professionals, patient advocates, and the migraine community play a key role in awareness efforts to bring about a change in society. Those suffering from this disease may withdraw themselves from certain daily activities and some may even fail to recognize it as a disease due to the stigma and lack of compassion around its symptoms. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), headache disorders are the most common disorders of the nervous system.
According to the Migraine Research Foundation, approximately 39 million people (men, women, and children) in the U.S. and 1 billion people worldwide suffer from this neurological disease. Migraine is the third most prevalent illness in the world and is common between the ages of 18 - 44. It tends to run in the family and 90% of the people have a family history of migraines. Around 1.2 million visits to the emergency room (ER) have been reported for acute migraine attacks. Every 10 seconds someone visits the ER complaining of a headache.
There are no known causes for migraine and it can be triggered by fatigue, change in weather, bright lights, or hypertension. The attacks may last between anywhere from 4 to 72 hours. Approximately 25% of sufferers experience a visual disturbance called aura which lasts less than an hour. Other symptoms of migraine are:
- Recurring throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head
- Sensitivity to light
- Sensitivity to sound
- Pain in the neck
- Changes in vision
- Mood swings
How can you participate in creating awareness?
Look out for Facebook lives - Various medical personnel and institutions host talks and discussions on Facebook to help people recognize the importance of acknowledging this disease and to create a migraine community. Watch out for such informative talks and share it with your family, friends, and the local community to further the advocacy.
Share your story - Your own story can help someone else recognize and take serious consideration of their symptoms. Share your treatment journey on social media, and by partnering with local media sources (newspapers, radio) and healthcare institutions in their awareness efforts
Advocate for Patients - Participate in online discussion forums, Facebook groups, or join with local healthcare institutions in their events to celebrate triumph and advocacy efforts. Encourage one another as you connect with patients and healthcare providers.