Migraine is a debilitating neurological disease that is often misunderstood by those who do not suffer symptoms, according to the Migraine Impact Report, a new survey recently released by Eli Lilly and Company and conducted by Nielsen. The report showed that respondents without the disease underestimate the pain and duration of a typical migraine. Ninety one percent of respondents with migraine further agreed that those who do not experience migraine pain do not have a complete understanding of the severity of the disease.
“As a practicing neurologist, I saw firsthand both the burden faced by people living with migraine, and the feeling that people must ‘power through’ their lives because those around them may not understand just how all-encompassing migraine can be,” says Dr. Sheena Aurora, a medical fellow at Lilly.
Migraine is characterized by recurrent episodes of severe headache, and is often accompanied by other symptoms including nausea, vomiting, changes in vision and sensitivity to light and sound. The pain can be so severe that most respondents to the survey on average rated the worst migraine pain as higher than both the pain associated with kidney stones and broken bones. More than 36 million Americans have migraine, with three times more women affected by migraine compared to men.
The survey found that the physical, social and economic impacts of migraine can be frequent and far-reaching. Respondents diagnosed with migraine on average experienced just 15.4 completely pain-free days over the previous 30 days. During the same time period, respondents reported that symptoms prevented them from doing what they wanted to do for one week (6.9 days). These missed activities include less time spent interacting with children, lowered productivity at work and a hindered ability to make plans.
“Sometimes even people with migraines don’t realize the impact of their disease,” says Aurora. “When I treated patients with migraines, I would ask them how many migraine headache days they had, and they would have to stop and think about it.”
In addition to causing patients to miss important events, migraine can have a significant negative impact on non-sufferers. Ninety percent of surveyed family members and caretakers of migraine sufferers said they feel “helpless” when their loved one has a migraine and that they wished that their loved ones could seek better care or treatment for their symptoms.
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