June is Migraine and Headache Awareness Month. It is a great time to help build awareness around migraine and headache, dispel common myths, and encourage employees to make use of their benefits if they think they may be experiencing migraine.

According to the International Headache Society, migraine has been identified as the leading cause of years lived with disability in people under the age of 50 years. Here are some common migraine myths that may be stopping people from getting the help they need.

Fiction: A migraine is just a bad headache.

Fact: A migraine is a neurological disease characterized by recurrent episodes of moderate to severe throbbing headaches, but it is more than just a “bad headache”. A migraine is often accompanied by symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, sound, and smells. These attacks can last anywhere from a few hours to several days, and significantly impact the daily life of those affected. Migraine can disrupt work, school, and social activities, and lead to decreased productivity and quality of life. Additionally, the unpredictability of migraine attacks can cause emotional distress, anxiety, and depression.

Fiction: Only women get migraines.

Fact: While migraine is three times more common among women than among men, according to the International Headache Society (IHS), men suffer from migraines as well as women and it is equally disabling for people of all genders. Migraine often begins in puberty and mostly affects adults but can also occur in children and the elderly. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that more than 37 million people in the United States and up to 148 million people worldwide experience migraine. Over 30% of women will experience a migraine in their life, and approximately 10% of children.

Fiction: Migraines are uncommon.

Fact: Migraine is the third most common disease in the world and impacts one in seven people. The IHS reports that migraine and chronic headache are the second most frequently identified cause of short-term absence for non-manual employees, and the fifth leading cause of emergency department visits. Migraine can cost more than $20 million each year in medical costs and lost productivity.

Fiction: Nothing can be done about migraines.

Fact: Migraine can be a debilitating condition, but there are treatments available. Unfortunately, fewer than 5% of migraine sufferers have seen a health care provider or received an accurate diagnosis and appropriate care. Migraine remains widely undiagnosed and undertreated. This is in part due to a lack of training for medical providers as well as low public awareness about migraine. Recently there have been significant advances in both acute migraine treatment and preventive treatment of migraine. See this video on “How to Treat Migraine” from the International Headache Society (https://ihs-headache.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/How-to-treat-migraine-Eng.mp4) for the latest thinking on the most effective treatments.

Source: American Migraine Foundation