by Nesreen Suwan, M.D.
Approximately 30 million Americans, primarily women, are affected by migraine headache--usually at the peak of their most productive years. Migraines can be very debilitating, causing lost work days and inability to perform even basic chores. How can a migraineur even think about juggling a career, home, and family when she is debilitated with the migraine.
Migraine headache is a common neurological disorder that is frequently misdiagnosed as sinus headache (headache attributed to sinusitis, or sinus inflammation). Just like any other medical condition, if it is misdiagnosed it will be mistreated. Symptoms of migraine headaches are frequently treated with over-the-counter analgesics.
The overuse of over-the-counter analgesics to treat migraines may actually result in more resistant rebound headaches and worsening of symptoms when future migraines occur. Not only do ineffectual cures cause the patient to suffer unnecessarily; when the migraines are untreated, or under-treated, they can actually cause the nervous system to become more sensitive, rendering more frequent, more severe, and harder-to-treat-migraine headaches.
Symptoms of migraine include some or all of the following: moderate to severe head pain, sensitivity to light, sound, or smell, nausea, vomiting, lack of concentration, scalp tenderness, neck stiffness, worsening of symptoms with bending over or going up the stairs or doing very simple household activities or job requirements.
Studies have concluded that migraine is a genetic disease that is caused by a sensitized nervous system. Misdiagnosis and treatment as sinus headaches can cause worsening of symptoms. The most important step, therefore, in any headache management is an accurate diagnosis.
Migraine headaches should not be over-diagnosed as well, overlooking serious underlying medical conditions that could be fatal if not treated. If migraine diagnosis is established by a headache specialist, there are, fortunately, multiple treatment options available. Because migraine is a neurological disorder, it should be treated under the care of a specialist who can help you bring the vicious circle of headaches and suffering to an end. The chronic-migraine circle may be very taxing and debilitating and it may cause missed work days and family activities.
Even if you have been seen or treated for headaches in the past, it would be well worth your time to find out whether new treatment options are available, or whether your current diagnosis or treatment is right for you. You deserve a better quality of life. Conquer your headaches and suffering and recapture your life.
Dr Nesreen Suwan is a board-certified neurologist who specializes in the treatment of headaches and fibromyalgia. She is board-certified in pain medicine with extra certification in headache medicine. She operates a specialty headache and fibromyalgia clinic that is affiliated with Adventist Hinsdale Hospital Pain Center of Excellence. She is highly recognized for her knowledge in headache and fibromyalgia. She is also a nationally known speaker in her specialty.
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Stop the Headache Merry-Go-Round You Deserve to Get Off
As Featured In Glancer Magazine, November 2013