Viva!: Migraine Misery; There Are Six Million UK Sufferers, Yet Many Still See It as Just a Headache. Rachel Armstrong Reveals the Painful Truth
Byline: Rachel Armstrong
DEBILITATING, frightening and much misunderstood, migraine is the most common neurological condition in the developed world -- but few non-sufferers appreciate how serious it really is.
It affects 10% of the population and there are more than six million migraine sufferers in the UK -- more than the number of diabetics, epileptics and asthmatics combined. But migraines are still dismissed by many people as just a headache.
Migraine Awareness Week, running until September 11, aims to change this by informing the public about a condition which disrupts millions lives.
Anita Few, executive officer of The Migraine Action Association which organised the awareness week, says migraine is far more than just a headache. ``Migraine is a serious neurological condition which has a really serious impact on people's lives, '' she says.
``Migraine Awareness Week is aiming to change these perceptions but also raise awareness among GPs and pharmacists. Many GPs have little understanding about how serious migraine is and there's little training for them. ''
According to a recent survey by The Migraine Trust, more than a third of migraine sufferers face discrimination at work and 40% have their social lives disrupted.
Alan Bartle, chief executive of The Migraine Trust, says: ``Our concern is that many people just don't realise how significantly sufferers are affected -- every working day up to 90, 000 people are absent from work or school as a result of migraine.
``The recent talk about unpaid sick leave is particularly worrying for migraine sufferers, many of whom feel their condition is not taken seriously enough by employers. ''
Migraine is a neurological condition causing sufferers to experience a series of recurring headaches in one part of their head, lasting between four and 72 hours. This is often accompanied by sensitivity to light and noise, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and eyesight changes.
In 15-20% of attacks headaches are preceded by an ``aura''. These involve visual disturbances like blind spots, flashing lights or zig zag patterns, confusion, inability to concentrate and tingling or pins and needles on the affected side of the head. …