A ‘perfectly evil’ disease
IT CORRUPTS the lives of millions of Australians, leaving them bedridden in darkness as they fight debilitating pain that can last for days.
But the crippling impact of migraines, which one victim describes as “perfectly evil”, is being poorly managed and largely ignored by the medical profession.
A Sunday Telegraph investigation has found migraine sufferers are missing out on vital medical help that could ease their pain and po- tential preventive measures are being denied research funding.
The crushing neurological condition, which causes paralysis, pain, vomiting, speech and vision problems that can last for days, has been found comparable to conditions such as dementia, quadriplegia and psychosis.
According to the World Health Organisation it is the third most debilitating medical condition in the world, affecting three times more women than men.
Yet in Australia only 1 per cent of sufferers are getting access to migraine-specific medication. Many victims simply self-medicate by going to bed and drawing the blinds as light increases the pain.
Professor Paul Martin, from Griffith University in Queensland estimates headaches cost the economy $1 billion a year and are responsible for 20 per cent of all working days lost.
The extent of the problem is largely hidden, though, because although millions of Australians suffer serious disability and miss work and social events because of migraine, many never receive a proper diagnosis.
Headache Australia’s general secretary Gerald Edmunds said headache sufferers need to register with the organisation to truly underline the extent of the problem and create political power.
Prof Martin said most GPs were simply unaware that psychological treatments had been shown in clinical trials to reduce migraine by 77 per cent.
“It leaves pharmaceuticals for dead, they prevent 27 per cent of headaches compared to our 77 per cent,” he said.
Migraine researcher Professor Lyn Griffiths also lamented that she could not find a partner to develop her new vitamin combination that prevents migraines in some people.
Carl Cincinnato, who has set up MigrainePal, an app that helps people manage migraines, has suffered severely from migraines for seven years. He describes it as a “perfectly evil disease”.
“It’s like being in a dark room, trying to find an exit and someone is in the room with a baseball bat waiting to hit you,” he said.
“It’s an invisible illness, society doesn’t see it, and you don’t get sympathy.”