Roughly 14 million American adults deal with chronic migraines daily. This is the only condition that can cause severe headaches 15 days or more a month for an average of three months at a time. Surprisingly, because of the infrequency of chronic migraines, it is difficult to diagnose such a condition. The National Headache Foundation find that less than 50% of chronic or occasional migraine sufferers receive a chronic diagnosis. Because of this, the correct care and treatment they need often is not provided to them.
Diagnosing Chronic Migraines
One of the problem with diagnosing chronic migraines is that headaches sometimes present themselves as symptoms of another problem, such as high blood pressure. Before diagnosing chronic migraines, physicians must eliminate any other problems and review a detailed history of headaches including:
- Frequency and duration
- Severity of pain
- Accompanying symptoms
- Effect on daily activities
- Family history
- Events involving headache development
- Results of attempted treatments
There is a wide range of accompanying symptoms with chronic migraines that make this disorder difficult to diagnose. For example, some people may feel a band-like pain circling around their head, while some may feel throbbing pain on one side of their head or the other. They can also vary from one event to the next, even if it’s the same person. Some of those symptoms can be:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Visual impairment/auras
- Light or sound sensitivity
- Pulsating or throbbing pain
Occasional vs. Chronic
Chronic migraines are the most frustrating an inhibiting of all headaches. Through multiple studies, it has been shown that those who struggle with chronic migraines have a higher rate and risk of depression, anxiety and fatigue than those without as frequent headaches. Lower life quality and inability to work away from home also presented themselves as disadvantages to those who suffer from chronic migraines, as well as higher chance for heart disease, or even strokes. As you can see, a correct diagnosis can affect much more than just your headache.
How to Find Help
There are many ways those with chronic migraines can be helped. Consult with your doctor about any questions you may have about chronic migraines, or how to seek treatment, if you have recently been diagnosed.