National Survey Shows Majority of Migraine Sufferers Misdiagnose Severe Head Pain
National Headache Foundation Launches Awareness Campaign
to Shed Light on Misdiagnosis and Treatment of Migraine
CHICAGO, Jan. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Nearly one out of three migraine and/or severe headache sufferers would rather have a root canal than a migraine, according to the results of a recent nationwide survey being released today by the National Headache Foundation (NHF). Additionally, 32 percent of self-reported migraineurs have not been diagnosed by a physician, and a majority admit having attributed their migraines to stress or tension headaches and/or sinus pressure. These data illustrate the debilitating nature of migraines and highlight the issue of under-diagnosis and misdiagnosis of migraines in the U.S. According to the NHF, an estimated 12 million migraine sufferers are still undiagnosed. "Proper diagnosis and treatment of migraines is crucial to improving the quality of life for migraineurs," says Merle Diamond, M.D., associate director of the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago and NHF spokesperson. "Therefore, the NHF is launching an awareness initiative to encourage sufferers to learn more about migraine by visiting www.headtalk.com. This website can also help foster a more productive dialogue between sufferers and their healthcare provider so that they can receive proper treatment for their headaches." According to the survey, self-reported severe headache sufferers (n=105) are not fully aware of the different symptoms that could indicate that a severe headache may actually be a migraine. The symptoms most identified with a migraine were sensitivity to light and sound (79 percent), pulsing/throbbing/pounding on one side of the head (71 percent), visual disturbances or light flashes (69 percent), and nausea (64 percent). However, fewer than half identified neck pain (48 percent), watery eyes (20 percent) and runny nose (eight percent) as possible symptoms of a migraine. Untreated or mistreated migraines can significantly reduce the quality of life for migraine sufferers and have a major impact on their daily activities. The survey showed that more than half of self-reported migraineurs said their social activities (60 percent), productivity/work attendance (59 percent) and time with family (56 percent) were most affected by the onset of their migraine pain. Nearly two-thirds of self-reported migraineurs said that they have relied on rest and meditation to alleviate symptoms and 66 percent said that they have used over-the-counter medications to treat their migraines. "Over-the-counter headache medications are not always the most appropriate form of treatment. There are a number of prescription medications designed to specifically target migraines, and these may be effective for the patient," says Dr. Diamond. "It is likely that many migraineurs suffer needlessly due to lack of knowledge and improper self-diagnosis." About the Survey The omnibus survey, conducted by Harris Interactive via telephone during November 28-30, 2003, interviewed more than 1,000 American adults comprising of 509 men and 511 women. The survey was funded by GlaxoSmithKline. About Migraine Migraine is a neurobiological disorder that affects 28 million Americans and can be disabling, as evidenced by missed days of work, lost time with family and friends, and a disrupted daily routine. Migraine is characterized by recurrent bad headaches lasting 4 to 72 hours (untreated) and with symptoms including moderate to severe headache pain, throbbing head pain, head pain located on one side of the head, head pain aggravated by routine activity, nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. Menstrually associated migraine is clinically defined as migraine headaches that occur anywhere from two days prior to menstrual flow through the third or fourth day of the woman's period. In 10-14 percent of women who suffer from menstrually associated migraine, the migraine occurs around the time of their period and no other time. About The National Headache Foundation The National Headache Foundation, founded in 1970, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving headache sufferers, their families and the healthcare providers who treat them; promoting research into headache causes and treatments; and educating the public to the fact that headaches are a legitimate biological disease and sufferers should receive understanding and continuity of care. For more information on headache causes and treatment options visit the National Headache Foundation Web site at www.headaches.org or call toll-free 1-888-NHF-5552.
SOURCE National Headache Foundation
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