Although the causes of migraine are still not completely clear, everything seems to point to the existence of a neurological alteration in the processing of painful stimuli by patients, and in which, as we have already said, it is necessary to take into account take environmental and personal factors into account and know them thoroughly.
Regarding the hereditary issue, it is estimated that the disease has a heritability of 42% and more than 40 genetic markers related to migraine have already been identified.
But migraine is not only one of the most common types of headache (primary headache), but also one of the most disabling among those who suffer from it.
Migraine affects around 14% of the European population, mainly women (80% of cases, approximately), and middle-aged (20–50 years).
It also affects younger people. It is estimated that 9% of European children and young people suffer from migraine, more often in girls (9%) than in children (5%).
In Spain, and according to data from the Spanish Society of Neurology (SEN)around 5 million people suffer from it, of which 1.5 million suffer from it in its chronic form, that is to say, they experience headaches more than 15 days a month.
If the headache is accompanied by the presence of neurological symptoms that precede it – the most prevalent are changes in vision or tingling in different parts of the body – it is called migraine with aura.
According to the aforementioned specialist, chronic migraine is four to six times more disabling than episodic migraine, and people with migraine with aura are at greater risk of other complications, such as stroke, than people who suffer from migraine without aura.
Migraine: environmental and personal factors
Numerous circumstances or situations have been described that can act as precipitants of a migraine crisis, but these do not affect all patients in the same way.
The most common are the hormonal ones (75%)the stress (71%) and those related to sleep pattern alterations (68%).
“There are also other environmental and personal factors such as alcohol consumption, tobacco, fasting, atmospheric changes, noise…”, points out Dr. Pablo Irimia.
While it is estimated that in Spain as a whole migraine affects 12.6% of the general population (17.2% in women and 8% in men), in Navarre, Castilla-La Mancha and Aragonaffects less than 10% of the population.
On the contrary, a Canary Islands, Murcia and Cantabria it is estimated that about 18% of the general population suffers from it.
The lack of awareness on the part of society, who do not consider their headache as a reason for medical consultation, makes the SEN believe that more than 40% of people who suffer from migraine in Spain are still undiagnosed.
It has also been estimated that it may take more than 6 years for the patient to receive the diagnosis and that up to 14 years may pass from the first migraine crisis to the first consultation with specialist care.
In addition, people with migraine often present numerous associated comorbidities such as vascular disorders, neurological diseases, psychiatric and psychological disorders, sleep disorders, inflammatory diseases… which may worsen the attacks in terms of duration, frequency or intensity of pain.
In this sense, the stress, anxiety and depression they tend to be the most frequent comorbidities.
It is estimated that more than 50% of people with migraine suffer from stress, more than 30% insomnia and/or depression, and more than 20% anxiety
Migraine: Get in my head
To better understand the suffering of people who suffer from this pathology, the Spanish Migraine and Headache Association (AEMICE) released a video with the following message:
The aforementioned Association also requests a National Strategy for addressing this disease, that “it should make the disease more visible, minimize inequities and guarantee the highest possible quality of care”.
Those in charge consider it to be one trivialized and underdiagnosed disease, and to make it known they have organized for the next one Tuesday, the 13tha day that will be broadcast live on the AEMICETV YouTube channel.
Migraine and work: some tips
The Spanish Association of Migraines and Headaches (AEMICE) also offers on its website different tips for dealing with this disease, of which we collect, for your interest, those related to the work environment:
Control stress: A little stress at work can be a source of motivation. But let’s not forget: Chronic and poorly controlled stress can negatively affect your health and increase your risk of migraine attacks.
If you feel under pressure, go for a walk. A little fresh air can help you resume your activity with more energy.
Use meditation techniques: Help you manage stress; breathing deeply will relax your nervous system and help you assess the situation that worries you from a different perspective.
Plan your tasks: a good organization of the tasks to be carried out is also key:
When you get to the office, create a list of all your to-do’s and order them from most to least urgent so you know where to start.
It will help you to keep them under control and reduce the feeling of stress.
Organize your time so you can do the tasks you set out to do throughout the day: check emails, make calls…
Set aside a few hours to check email, for example, you can do it every two hours.
If you can, delegate some of your work. You don’t have to do everything yourself if you work with a team.
Adapt your workspace: From a good posture to taking short breaks, they can help keep migraine episodes at bay:
Make sure you maintain correct posture for your cervical spine: back straight without slouching.
If you have to sit all day, get up every now and then to stretch your legs.
If you work in front of the computer, the screen should be at eye level and close 50 or 100 cm of distance
Reduce screen brightness: Don’t strain your eyes. Increase the font size or zoom in on documents if you feel you can’t see properly or your eyes hurt.
Eat healthy and outside of your work area: Forget about eating at your desk and/or in front of the computer and about working while you eat.
Remember that it is important to take your lunch break at the same time every day.
If possible, leave the office to eat and get some fresh air. It’s a great way to combat stress and disconnect.
We recommend that you choose healthy dishes free of additives and preservatives.
Disclose your illness to your work environment: Migraine is a neurological affectation, with the same importance as any other disease.
Communicating that you suffer from migraines can help your superiors and/or team understand your specific needs, which will help you feel more relaxed. Don’t be ashamed to talk about it naturally.
In recent years, great progress has been made in the preventive treatment of migraine, with the appearance of several therapeutic alternatives.
However, it is estimated that less than 14% of patients who require preventive treatment are receiving it.
On the other hand, and as far as symptomatic treatment is concerned, only the 30% of patients with episodic migraine and only the 50% of people with chronic migraine use specific drugs for this disease.
From the WITHOUT the need to promote one is also emphasized national strategic plan to the National Health System for the comprehensive approach to headaches and migraines, to, among others, improve the training of specialists in order to reduce the diagnostic delay and promote the use of preventive drugs.