Chronic Migraines

Around half to three-quarters of all adults in the world have had a significant headache in the last year. It is estimated that only 1% of people in the world escape headaches altogether during their lifetime.

There are four distinct states of headache sufferers:

  • No migraine
  • Low-frequency episodic migraine (less than 10 headache days per month)
  • High-frequency episodic migraine (10-14 headache days per month)
  • Chronic migraine (15 or more headache days per month)

The American Migraine Foundation defines a migraine as “an inherited neurological disorder that is characterized by over excitability of specific areas of the brain.” Migraine is a common and disabling condition reported in approximately 12% of the population. In the Global Burden of Disease Study by the World Health Organization migraine was found to be the sixth highest cause worldwide of years lost due to disability.

The American Migraine Foundation also states, “Although we do not clearly understand how a migraine brain is different or what happens in the brain to start a migraine, we know that individuals with migraines are more susceptible to the influence of transient factors, termed “triggers,” that raise the risk for having a migraine attack.”

Migraine triggers include but are not limited to:

  • Weather – change in biometric pressure
  • Menstrual period or hormonal changes
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Odors
  • Certain foods
  • Alcohol
  • Poor sleep

It is important to note a person can have more than one migraine trigger and not all migraine triggers create the same intensity of migraine.

Chronic migraines are defined by the World Health Organization, WHO, as having 15 or more headache days per month; meaning that people with chronic migraine have a migraine or headache more often than not. Between 1.7 and 4% of the adult population, around 300,000,000 adults, have Chronic Migraines.

In a statement about the report, Dr. Shekhar Saxena of the WHO said, “Headache and migraine disorders are greatly underrated and underreported by health systems and receive too little attention… Headaches can be debilitating for many people, rendering them unable to work. During migraine attacks, 90 percent of people postpone household chores, almost three-quarters have limited ability to work and half of them miss work entirely… Governments must take the issue more seriously, train health personnel in headache disorder diagnosis and treatment, and ensure appropriate medication is available and used properly.”

Many people who suffer from chronic migraines have stress and guilt about having to reschedule their commitments which causes their relationships and work to suffer and their stress level to rise. Unfortunately, stress is a common trigger for migraines so the cycle is perpetual and seeming to be unending. Chronic migraines are thieves that steal your life and your sense of self.

Visit the American Migraine Foundation and World Health Organization for more information on migraines. Visit Science & Technology at Central to find more information on how to take your life back from migraines. Here is a booklist to help you get started on healing.

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