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3.2M Suffer from Migraines
Chronic migraine is a distinct and severe neurological disorder impacting an estimated 3.2 million Americans.
The disorder is characterized by patients who have a history of migraine and suffer from headaches on 15 or more days per month with headaches lasting four hours a day or longer. It is estimated that approximately 80% of those whose symptoms meet the definition of chronic migraine have not received an accurate diagnosis and, as a result, may be unaware of their treatment options. This may be due to mischaracterization of chronic migraine as a less severe headache disorder.
Although chronic migraine occurs in both men and women, women are three times more likely than men to suffer from migraines. Sufferers often experience depression and anxiety as part of the condition. Chronic migraine also can be influenced by life stress, sleep habits, diet, and overuse of acute medications that relieve pain associated with symptoms of headache.
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The typical migraine headache affects one half of the head and is pulsating in nature. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light, and increased sensitivity to sound. The symptoms are generally aggravated by routine activity. Approximately one-third of people who suffer from migraine headaches perceive an aura before their migraine. An aura can be a transient visual, sensory, language, or motor disturbance.
At the first sign of a migraine, retreat from your usual activities if possible.
- Turn off the lights. Migraines often increase sensitivity to light and sound. Relax in a dark, quiet room. Sleep if you can.
- Try temperature therapy. Apply hot or cold compresses to your head or neck. Ice packs have a numbing effect, which may dull the sensation of pain. Hot packs and heating pads can relax tense muscles. Warm showers or baths may have a similar effect.
- Drink a caffeinated beverage. In small amounts, caffeine alone can relieve migraine pain in the early stages or enhance the pain-reducing effects of acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) and aspirin.
Dr. Jerome Lisk, MD is board certified with a fellowship in movement disorders and works for Southern California Movement Disorder Specilaists. Dr. Lisk earned his medical degree at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, Virginia. He completed an internal medicine internship at the UCLA/Charles Drew Campus and his neurology residency and movement disorders fellowship at the University of Texas at Houston.