VOL: 98, ISSUE: 36, PAGE NO: 21
Ann Turner is director, Migraine Action AssociationI am not a vindictive person but there are occasions when I wish everyone could suffer from just one migraine attack. Although migraine is a recognised neurological condition, affecting around one in eight people in the UK, and has been listed by the World Health Organization as among the top 20 most disabling conditions, it remains misunderstood, under-recognised and under or inappropriately treated.
I am not a vindictive person but there are occasions when I wish everyone could suffer from just one migraine attack. Although migraine is a recognised neurological condition, affecting around one in eight people in the UK, and has been listed by the World Health Organization as among the top 20 most disabling conditions, it remains misunderstood, under-recognised and under or inappropriately treated.
It is widely regarded as 'just a headache' and people who get migraines often receive little sympathy or support. A common response is: 'We all get headaches. Take a couple of aspirin and stop making such a fuss.'
Unfortunately the symptoms of migraine can be far more extensive and can last for anything from four hours to three days.
Television programmes often reinforce these misconceptions. For example they often portray images of a woman sitting chatting and drinking in a noisy, smoky pub who says: 'I've got a terrible migraine'. If she had, the smell of the alcohol and the smoke would make her feel nauseated or even make her vomit. Any movement of her head would make it pound more painfully. She would want to escape quickly and lie absolutely still in a quiet, dark room.
The average person who gets migraines has 13 attacks a year, which usually strike without warning. The impact on their quality of life and on those around them - family, friends, employers and colleagues - should not be underestimated.
In addition to the pain and misery of the attack, patients often feel frustrated about missing out on life, angry that their body is letting them down in this way and guilty when they have to cancel arrangements at short notice. They can become reluctant to make plans or take on responsibility.
Those who do not suffer with migraines but who use migraine as a convenient excuse when they want a day off work, or to avoid doing something they do not want to do, discredit people who genuinely experience migraine attacks.
Fortunately some effective treatments are now available. Unfortunately more than 50% of people who have migraines are unaware of them. They continue to suffer in silence and do not seek the support that is available.
Congratulations to Nursing Times for publishing Manuela Fontebasso's update on this distressing condition during Migraine Awareness Week.
- For more information on migraine or Migraine Awareness Week, or to obtain posters and leaflets, contact the Migraine Action Association on 01536 461333 or visit the website at www.migraine.org.uk