Migraines - A Serious Women's Health Issue

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Migraines - A Serious Women's Health Issue

Post by Tee on Mon Jun 20, 2011 5:32 am

I am sure you all know this stuff - but it is a nice piece...

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By Wendy Lewis - Beauty/Skincare Columnist - HealthNewsDigest.com
Jun 19, 2011 - 8:47:48 AM

(HealthNewsDigest.com) - We have all known someone who has been devastated by migraines that may come on unexpectedly and bring symptoms like throbbing pain, sensitivity to light, nausea, and vomiting and lasts for hours or days. Chances are that someone was female. Migraine is not only a debilitating illness, it is an important women’s health issue. Of the over 36 million Americans afflicted with migraine, 27 million are women. Women suffer from migraines three times as often as men, in the U.S that is 18% vs 3% respectively, making it one of the leading serious health problems affecting women, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. In fact, of the women who suffer from migraines, 25% have four or more severe attacks per month, which can cause a serious interruption in their personal and professional lives.

Migraine is not just a bad headache. It is an extremely debilitating collection of neurological symptoms that usually includes a severe recurring intense throbbing pain on one or both sides of the head that lasts from four hours to three days, often accompanied by one or more of the following: visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, extreme sensitivity to sound, light, touch and smell, and tingling or numbness in the extremities or face. These symptoms, which can last 20-60 minutes, are referred to as the aura phase of the headache. Of course, everyone is different, and symptoms vary by person and sometimes by attack. The challenge for neurologists is that migraine is difficult to treat because the symptoms are hard to evaluate and can change from one attack to the next. Since symptoms vary widely, migraine is often misdiagnosed and many sufferers are never diagnosed.

So many women suffer from this incapacitating condition, yet the causes remain unknown and there is no cure. Women report pain that lasts longer and occurs more frequently than among men. There is much evidence connecting hormones to migraine, but not all migraines are hormonal. Curiously, during childhood, migraine is more prevalent in boys than in girls, but once puberty kicks in and estrogen acts up, girls are more susceptible. In fact, girls are more likely to have their first migraine during the year of their first period than at any other time in their lives, according to Cathy Glaser, President of the Migraine Research Foundation. After puberty, migraine in women increases until about age 45, when it begins to taper off. Many women find their migraine symptoms are affected for better or worse by menstruation, hormonal contraception, pregnancy, and menopause. Hormonal fluctuations, especially estrogen withdrawal, are thought to trigger migraines. During perimenopause, which can start in the mid 30s with hormonal fluctuations, migraines often get worse. Fortunately, migraine incidence decreases during menopause and drops to 5% in women after age 60.

“By helping research scientists discover the root causes of migraine and determine how to treat them, the Migraine Research Foundation hopes that everyone who suffers from migraine will eventually have an effective treatment that they can count on to allow them to live a healthy, happy and productive life, says Stephen Semlitz, co-founder and Chairman of the Board of Migraine Research Foundation. Visit www.migraineresearchfoundation.org for lists of certified headache specialists and headache centers all over the U.S.
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