Dr Julia Shahnaz, a neurologist and headache specialist, explains that even though 1 out of 7 people suffer from migraines, it’s an overlooked “disability”. The common misunderstanding we have is that “disability” is limited to physical incapability. However, it’s an umbrella term covering impairments, activity limitation, and participation restrictions in social events.
Ranked as the first leading cause of disability in those under 50, migraines are three times more common in women within the teenage and menopause years. It also affects those who are older. However, there’s no specific trigger. It can be hereditary, caused by hormonal changes, or even environmental factors. There’s also no objective measure of its severity. Hence, it’s not surprising that most sufferers are being discriminated, judged and stigmatized, especially at work.
30-second test: Do you have a migraine?
During the last three months, have you ever had any of the following symptoms concerning your headache?
- Did you feel nauseous?
- Did the light trouble you (much more than when there is no headache)?
- Did your headache limit your ability to work, study or do something you needed to, for at least one day?
If you answered “yes” to at least 2 of these questions, you may have had a migraine. Consult your doctor or a neurologist for a proper diagnosis.
Lipton RB, Dodick D, Sadovsky R, al. e. A self-administered screener for migraine in primary care: the ID Migraine™ validation study. Neurology 2003; 61:375-382