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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The misery of the migraine

One Friday morning in 1977 I was making my weekly call on my largest account in Kansas City when I suddenly started seeing jagged lines in front of me as I tried to read a stock status report. I had been drinking a lot of coffee that morning and the first thing I wondered was, did the large amount of coffee trigger this sensation?

Fortunately, the lines cleared up within 10 to 15 minutes but I was still concerned as to what had caused the temporary problem. I looked up the symptoms in a medical book which explained that I had probably experienced a minor migraine headache.

Ever since then, I have had "migraines with aura" many times if I overindulge on regular coffee, chocolate, Coca-Cola or any product that contains a reasonable amount of caffeine. The aura usually lasts 10-15 minutes and sometimes I am left with a headache that can be relieved with aspirin.

The few migraines I get are considered mild and affect about 20% of migraine sufferers. They are not a hindrance. Unfortunately, there is another class of migraine that is very severe: the migraine without aura. Migraine without aura may be caused by stress and is the most prevalent type of migraine. It may occur on one or both sides of the head and tiredness or mood changes may be experienced the day before the headache. Nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light often accompany migraine without aura.

I have had people with this condition tell me the pain and suffering involved is incredible and can even become disabling. Patients are advised to lie down in a dark room and take proper medicine for the condition. These migraines can last one to several days and can become recurring. Be thankful if you have never experienced the condition.

According to Dr. Seymour Diamond of the National Headache Foundation, about 10% of the population of the USA, about 30 million people, suffer from some type of migraine. Dr. Diamond recommends seeing a doctor if you have headaches severe enough to interfere with regular activities, especially if they are getting progressively worse.

The Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale has a division that deals with migraines that is supposed to be very effective.


Mary Kay said...

Headache centers and clinics are popping up all over the country now because of the severity of migraine. Employers really don't want to hear about it after awhile so these people really need treatment to get them under control.

We see 14,000 headache visits per year at our center and it keeps getting larger. I think the 30 million sufferers is way underestimated.

Jim McAllister said...

Mary Kay, Thanks for the information on your center. I've known people who REALLY suffer with this malady. I'm not sure mine would even be considered the standard migraine. I don't suffer at all while those poor folks are very ill from their headaches.