NACOGDOCHES — Though doctors still don’t know for certain what causes migraine headaches, they do have better therapies and preventive strategies today.
Having migraines doesn’t mean you have to miss out on life, said Dr. Charles W. Byrd, doctor of internal medicine in Nacogdoches.
Byrd was one of a number of experts in women’s health who spoke at the recent annual Women’s Health Forum on the Stephen F. Austin State University campus in Nacogdoches. About 23 million people suffer from migraines in the United States yearly, a number which includes 18 percent of female population and 5.6 percent of the male.
The average cost of treatment per person is about $817 per year, not counting special tests. The number also does not count the overall economic effect of lost work days and diminished work performance, which by conservative estimates might be in the billions of dollars.
Migraine headaches are accompanied by pain, nausea, vomiting, photophobia (light sensitivity) and phonophobia (noise sensitivity). Compared to other types of headaches which may last 20 minutes to a couple of hours, migraine headaches typically last from four to 72 hours.
Members of the medical establishment still do not agree on the cause or causes of migraines, but there are strategies for treatment, Byrd said.
One of the most successful strategies is to identify what triggers the migraine for a particular sufferer. Typical triggers include specific foods, stress, temperature or weather, fluctuating hormone levels, menstrual cycles, disrupted sleep patterns, depression anxiety, and too much or too little exercise.
By identifying and avoiding a migraine-triggering mechanism, an individual may avoid most attacks, Byrd said.
Presented by the Texas Agricultural Extension Service and cosponsored by SFASU, the Nacogdoches Medical Center and Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital, the forum was planned by the Families in Transition Task Force (FIT).
The FIT task force is a non-profit marketing association formed to address critical issues affecting the economic, emotional and physical integrity of East Texas families. Though composed largely of Extension family and consumer science agents in 22 East Texas counties, its membership also includes key civic, county and political leaders.
Those wishing more information about FIT and how they can become involved should contact their local county Extension office.