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“Migraine... the Pain Is Real.
So is the treatment. Get Diagnosed."
NHF Offers Five Strategies For Effective Migraine Management

You may wonder, "Why do we need a National Headache Awareness week?" Unfortunately, too many people, including some health care professionals, don't realize that headaches and Migraine disease can be truly disabling. This year, The National Headache Foundation has chosen to focus on Migraine disease. A Migraine is actually not a headache. Migraine is a genetic neurological disease that manifests itself in attacks or episodes. A headache may be one of the symptoms of a Migraine attack. Some people have Migraine attacks without having a headache.

Did you know?

  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO), migraine alone is 19th among all causes of years lived with disability.
  • More than 32 million Americans have Migraine disease. Migraine attacks typically start during adolescence; however, many children also experience Migraines.¹
  • Less than 2% of all headaches are organically caused -- headaches due to infections, structural abnormalities, brain tumors, etc.²
  • Migraineurs lose more than 157 million workdays each year.²
  • More than half (51%) of sufferers report a 50% or more reduction in work and/or school productivity and 66% report a 50% or more reduction in household work productivity.²
  • It's estimated that industry loses $50 billion annually to absenteeism, lost productivity, and medical expenses caused by headache and Migraine disease.²

In an effort to educate the public about the impact and severity of Migraine disease, and support America's 32 million Migraine sufferers, the National Headache Foundation (NHF) has declared June 6-12, 2004 as National Headache Awareness Week (NHAW). This year’s theme is "Migraine... The Pain is Real. So is the Treatment. Get Diagnosed."

The goals of National Headache Awareness Week are:

  • to gain recognition of Migraine pain as a real and legitimate condition,
  • to let sufferers know that there are new treatments available,
  • and to encourage sufferers to see a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.

According to a recent online survey conducted by the National Headache Foundation, which received more than 1,300 responses, 43% of respondents indicated they were not aware that prevention was an option, and 39% have sought treatment for a Migraine attack in the emergency room. Additionally, 86% of survey respondents experience throbbing pain during an attack, while 72% suffer from nausea.

National Headache Awareness Week emphasizes five strategies for effective Migraine management, which empower sufferers to take control of their condition. The five strategies for effective Migraine management are:

  • Get an accurate diagnosis - Make an appointment with your healthcare provider to specifically talk about your head pain problem. If, within three months, you are not receiving adequate relief, ask for a referral to a headache and Migraine specialist.
  • Ask which treatment option is right for you- There have been many advances in the treatment of Migraine, both medication and alternative therapies, all of which should be discussed with your healthcare provider to determine which treatment option is best for you.
  • Find out if prevention is an option - While some Migraine sufferers take acute medications (those taken when an attack occurs), prevention is a possibility for others, and should be discussed with your healthcare provider. If you are having two or more Migraines per week, or your attacks are particularly disabling, prevention may be an option.
  • Keep a record of what has successfully reduced Migraine pain - All headache and Migraine sufferers should keep a diary, which includes triggers, pain management strategies, time of attack, length of attack, and frequency and severity of attack. A diary may help to identify and eliminate triggers.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for support - Family, friends and professional colleagues should know that you are a Migraine sufferer, and that if you are experiencing an attack, they should be supportive and understanding. The National Headache Foundation offers local support groups around the country. To find a support group in your area, visit

Although stress itself is not a Migraine trigger, it can play a role in Migraine as an exacerbating factor. Stress makes us more susceptible to our Migraine triggers, just as it makes us more susceptible to the virus that causes colds. Additionally, stress can trigger a tension headache, which in turn, can trigger a Migraine attack. The National Headache Foundation also has ten tips for stress reduction:

  1. Keep an extra dose of your medication handy at all times. If you suffer a Migraine while away from home, you will be prepared.
  2. Refill your prescription before it runs out. Having an adequate supply of medication on hand eliminates the chance of being unprepared when a Migraine occurs.
  3. Keep your Headache Sufferer ID Card in your purse or wallet so your medical information will be easily accessible. This will help if a healthcare professional requests this information.
  4. See your healthcare provider immediately upon any change in your Migraine pattern. A change in frequency, severity or head pain type could signal a more serious problem.
  5. Write down a list of questions to ask your healthcare provider before your next visit. Knowing what you want to ask will help you to better use your office time more effectively.
  6. Be a partner in your healthcare. Become educated about various treatment options and discuss them with your healthcare provider at your next visit.
  7. Join a local support group for Migraine sufferers. Support groups provide current information on headache causes and treatments in a compassionate environment.
  8. Subscribe to NHF Head Lines, the bi-monthly newsletter of the National Headache Foundation, to receive the latest information on headache and Migraine causes and treatments.
  9. Keep a Migraine diary. By learning and eliminating triggers, you may be able to reduce the frequency and severity of your Migraines.
  10. Find a healthcare provider who understands Migraine.

Also during NHAW, the National Headache Foundation will introduce its new Headache Sufferer Identification Card, a wallet-sized card that details health information related to their head pain condition, which allows the sufferer to easily access this information when requested by a healthcare professional. The Headache Sufferer Identification Card is available by calling 888-NHF-5552. To further support headache and Migraine sufferers, the National Headache Foundation, through an unrestricted educational grant from Xcel Pharmaceuticals, Inc., has created a brochure about physician-patient communication. Because the information exchange between patient and doctor is critical to diagnosis, this brochure helps breakdown the barriers, and establish effective communication. Additionally, National Headache Awareness Week offers an opportunity for sufferers to learn about advances in treatment options.

According to Dr. Seymour Diamond, founder and executive chairman of the National Headache Foundation,

“Great strides have been made in the treatment options available to Migraine sufferers, which can reduce their pain and associated symptoms and improve their quality of life. However, sufferers need to see a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis in order to gain the full benefits of a Migraine prevention and treatment program.”

For more information about National Headache Awareness Week, visit the National Headache Foundation Web site at or call 888-NHF-5552 Monday - Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Central Time.


Although the level of awareness regarding Migraine disease is higher than it has been in the past, we have a long way to go. As Migraineurs, the best thing we can do for ourselves is to become more educated about our disease. As the general public becomes more educated and aware, our lives will become easier. Each of us can work toward these goals by sharing this information with others.

 According to the World Health Organization, 6% of men and 18% of women have Migraine disease. Applying those percentages to the official United States Census of 2000, determines that there are more than 32 million Migraineurs in the United States.
 The National Headache Foundation.


NOTE: The information on this site is for education and support only. It is not medical advice and should not be construed as such. Always consult your physician if you have new or different symptoms. Never change your treatment regimen or add herbals, supplements, etc., without consulting your doctor.

Last Updated June 5, 2004


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 The American Headache and Migraine Association (AHMA)...

a patient-focused, patient-driven organization for patients with Migraine and
other headache disorders and their family, friends, and care partners.
Anyone interested in the concerns or patients with these disorders is welcome to join.

The AHMA exists to EASE the burden of Migraine and other headache disorders through Education, Awareness, Support, and Engagement.


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NOTE: The information on this site is for education and support only. It is not medical advice and should not be construed as such. Always consult your physician if you have new or different symptoms. Never change your treatment regimen or add herbals, supplements, etc., without consulting your doctor.

All content on this site is physician reviewed by Dr. John Claude Krusz.

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