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Chronic Migraine needs early diagnosis and timely attention: Neurologists

The experts cautioned that it is recommended that patients who frequently self-medicate with analgesics and painkillers to treat headache episodes, must contact a specialised neurologist early to avoid headache chronification and medication overuse headache disorders.

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The experts also highlighted that Chronic migraine treatment starts with managing lifestyle changes such as adopting an exercise plan, managing stress, staying hydrated along with identifying headache triggers. (Image Credit: Pixabay)

Allergan, an AbbVie company recently highlighted the need for early diagnosis and specialised care for Chronic Migraine. According to experts, headache disorders are among the top ten causes of disability and one of the most frequent medical complaints: almost everybody has experienced it, at least 10 percent of adults everywhere are sometimes disabled by it, and up to 3 percent live with it on more days than not.

In 2019, headache disorders ranked 14th among global causes of disability-adjusted life years (DALY). However, headaches are underrepresented and there is little recognition of their public health impact.

Moreover, most people who are prone to migraines get a painful attack once or twice a month. Meanwhile, there is a more severe condition known as chronic migraine, in which an individual gets headaches more frequently. Neurologists have stress that Chronic migraine lasts for 15 or more days in a month, for at least 3 months, and at least 8 days which qualifies as a Migraine headache day. It is the second most disabling condition worldwide.

Chronic Migraine usually begins with less frequent headache episodes that progress to a more frequent headache pattern. Moreover, several other risk factors have been implicated with migraine pain progressing into persistent pain.

“Chronic migraine develops over time, and is a result of factors such as obesity, excessive consumption of caffeine, irregular sleeping patterns, stress and genetic disposition amongst others, etc,” Dr. Anil Venkitachalam, Consultant – Neurology and Movement Disorders, Nanavati Max Super Specialty Hospital said during a press briefing. He also emphasised on migraine affecting more women than men.

“Women are three times more affected by chronic migraine than men. Typically, women are worst hit in their thirties, when the consequences of days lost to the debilitating pain can be tremendous. This is due to the fluctuation of a hormone called estrogen, which in women, contributes to the development of chronic migraines. While in childhood, the migraine is more prevalent in boys, however with the influence of estrogen, the prevalence in women rises,” Dr. Anil Venkitachalam.

Surprisingly, headache disorders, rank tenth for women, one level lower than gynaecological diseases, among global causes of disability-adjusted life years (DALY) and first for young women.

“Chronic migraine is an under-recognized and an under-treated condition. A timely diagnosis and appropriate supervision can significantly improve quality of life of a patient. Allergan, an Abbvie company is dedicated to promoting science so that healthcare providers can better care for those suffering from migraines. We aspire to help persons with migraine navigate barriers to care, get appropriate medicines, and reclaim their lives through education and relationships with the migraine community,” Dr. Rishi Jain, Medical Director, AbbVie said in a statement earlier this month.

The experts also highlighted that Chronic migraine treatment starts with managing lifestyle changes such as adopting an exercise plan, managing stress, staying hydrated along with identifying headache triggers. Furthermore, it is important to keep a headache diary which is useful in recording details of your migraine attacks or headache, such as possible triggers, duration, and severity. This diary can prove helpful during a diagnosis.

On the incidences of Chronic Migraine in India, Dr. Anil Venkitachalam told Financial Express.com: “We don’t have the exact statistics of Chronic Migraine in India. We have small studies conducted by AIIMS and SGPGI. But when we look at it worldwide, its about 10-20 percent people across the globe have migraine and around 5 percent people have Chronic Migraine. I would expect it to be the same in India as well. Also, menstruation does not contribute to chronic migraine. It just one of the factors.”

The experts cautioned that it is recommended that patients who frequently self-medicate with analgesics and painkillers to treat headache episodes, must contact a specialised neurologist early to avoid headache chronification and medication overuse headache disorders.

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