A new online survey of individuals who experience migraines shows that most sufferers are dissatisfied with treatments, report difficulty getting diagnoses and feel isolated and stigmatized.
The annual survey was conducted by Migraine.com. The 145-question survey was completed by 3,923 migraine sufferers.
Summary of Findings from Migraine in America 2016:
61% of sufferers experienced symptoms before the age of 19
- 93% experience head pain, 16% experience muscle weakness and 12% restless leg syndrome
- 58% reported attacks lasting 5 days or more
- 59% reported that their symptoms vary from one attack to another
- 90% scheduled a doctor’s appointment for their migraine and 42% also went to the ER or Urgent Care
- What triggers migraine?
- 81% say weather or barometric pressure trigger migraine
- 69% say smells or perfumes trigger migraine
- 67% say bright light is a trigger
- 62% say stress is a migraine trigger
- Impact on well-being
- 67% feel others do not understand that migraine is not just a headache
- 64% constantly worry about disappointing others
- 46% are embarrassed about having migraine
- 41% hide their migraines from others
- Impact of life
- 93% say migraine impact their ability to work
- 89% say migraine impact their relationship with their partner
- 87% say migraine impact their ability to attend school
- 86% say migraine impact their relationship with their children
- How migraines are treated differ
- 94% use over-the-counter medication
- 89% use abortive/acute prescription medication
- 84% use preventative prescription medication
- 64% use rescue prescription medication
“No one took my symptoms seriously until I was in my 20’s,” says Kerrie Smyres. “I have had chronic migraine since I was age 11, but was not diagnosed until I was 25. When I was kid, most people thought I was making excuses to skip school. In all those years that my symptoms were dismissed, I internalized the stigma of migraine. I’m nearly 40 and, after three years of intense therapy, have finally stopped questioning if my symptoms were as severe as I believe them to be.”
Katie Golden, a patient advocate, asks: “Why are they dissatisfied with their treatment? Are they not seeing the right doctor? Are they scared to try something different – had a bad experience?” She goes on to say, “I think there is always something new I can try, whether it is a balance of traditional and alternative treatments. I do my due diligence to learn about treatments before deciding, but I feel you can’t be afraid to try or you’ll be stuck where you are. Everyone deserves to have their pain alleviated.”
Migraine is a disorder characterized by recurrent headaches that can be moderate to severe. They often last from two to 72 hours and may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to lights, smells and certain sounds. Some migraines are accompanied by aura.
“The belief that migraine is just a bad headache is so prevalent that even the people we’re closest to don’t believe the extent of migraine’s symptoms. Migraine attacks are often physically brutal; the lack of support people with migraine receive can be just as vicious emotionally,” said Smyres.
The Migraine in America 2016 survey was conducted online between May and June 2016.