A headache is one of the most frustrating conditions that an otherwise healthy individual has to deal with at irregular intervals throughout their life. Now, imagine these headaches with double the intensity and at the frequency of several times per month! This is what a condition known as chronic migraines entail.
To help both existing and potential sufferers better understand chronic migraines, we have provided answers to a few frequently asked questions:
What are Chronic Migraines?
Chronic migraines are severe headaches that last 4 or more hours at a time and occurs at a frequency of 8 to 15 days each month. Studies show that a staggering 3.2 million Americans over the age of 18 currently suffer from the condition, and yet only 20% are properly diagnosed.
Symptoms of chronic migraines typically include throbbing pain on one side of the head, heightened sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, and vomiting. Prior to the migraine onset, warning signs may include blind spots, light flashes, or tingling on the face or limbs. These warning signs are called aura.
What Causes Chronic Migraines?
Chronic migraines remain a relatively new and misunderstood condition, and healthcare specialists have yet to determine a cause. However, there are several environmental and genetic factors that may trigger the onset of chronic migraine symptoms:
- Food and Drink – Salty and processed foods, skipping meals, fasting, caffeine and alcohol consumption.
- Mental and Physical Stress – Stress in work and/or home life, extreme physical strain, bright lights, loud sounds, strong smells.
- Sleep Changes – Excessive sleep, insufficient sleep, jet lag.
- Weather Changes – Extreme fluctuations in weather, shifts in barometric pressure.
- Age – Typically begins in adolescence, peaks during your 30’s, and lessens with each passing decade.
- Gender – Boys are at a higher risk during childhood, while women are 3 times more at risk after puberty.
- Genetics – 90% of chronic migraine sufferers have a family history of migraines.
How to Treat Chronic Migraines?
Due to the unpredictable nature of the condition, there is only a limited number of treatment options available to date. Fortunately, there is a variety of acute and preventative medications to control or prevent the symptoms. To prevent an additional symptom called Medication Overuse Headache, it is best to speak with a qualified professional regarding treatment.
In addition, maintaining a consistent, healthy lifestyle and knowing your typical triggers is a great way to help decrease the number of your headache days.
Do Chronic Migraines Qualify for Disability?
Studies show that over the course of 90 days, individuals experiencing chronic migraines miss an average of 63 days of work and school, as well as time with family and friends. However, in order to quality for disability, medical evidence is required that you are receiving regular treatment.
If you seek medical attention for your chronic migraines in Bradenton or Sarasota, FL, we welcome you to contact our experts at Coastal Orthopedics Sports Medicine & Pain Management today. The pain management physicians at each of our three convenient locations are available to discuss your symptoms and potential treatment options based on your individual needs.