Hopewell, NJ (PRWEB) June 11, 2013
Migraine headaches are surprisingly common among teenage girls, yet many have limited knowledge of the disorder and frequently misuse over-the-counter medications that can worsen their symptoms, a noted headache researcher says.
Dr. Mitra Assadi, director of the Headache Center at Capital Health’s Capital Institute for Neurosciences, is calling for health education messages aimed at teenage girls to include information about migraines, including signs, symptoms and potential treatments.
“Empowering girls with basic information regarding migraine could have a powerful impact on their medical care and their quality of life,” Dr. Assadi said. “Too many teen girls are suffering needlessly because they are not getting properly diagnosed and treated.”
Dr. Assadi's research on migraines includes a recent study published in the Journal of Pediatric Neurology that recruited 309 girls aged 14-18. Eighteen percent of the girls were found to have definite migraine, based on the International Headache Classification. Twenty-five percent had probable migraine. Another 45 percent had non-migraine headaches.
The teen girls in the study also had poor knowledge about the symptoms, triggers, treatments and auras associated with migraine.
For instance, just 57 percent of girls with definite migraine correctly identified their headaches as migraine, while only 28 percent of those with probable migraines considered themselves to have migraines. The research determined that the teenagers’ knowledge was “substantially” limited in regards to migraine auras and “moderately” limited in terms of symptoms, triggers and treatment.
The study also looked at the use of over-the-counter (OTC) medications, such as aspirin, acetaminophen, naproxen and ibuprophen. According to Dr. Assadi, inadequate medical care often leads to self-medication. Overall, 68 percent of the girls with definite migraine used OTC medications one to two times each week; 19 percent used OTC drugs three times each week; and five percent used OTC medications daily.
Dr. Assadi found high rates of OTC drug use in the other categories as well. Overall, nine percent of teenage girls in the study used OTC drugs every day.
“We know that overuse of these medications can lead to rebound headaches that make matters worse, and may be toxic to the kidneys,” Dr. Assadi said.
She said physicians sometimes dismiss migraines among girls, and even family members may not fully recognize the suffering caused by migraines. Moreover, both patients and families may be unaware of treatments, which include pharmacological and holistic interventions. Even those who understand that their headaches are caused by migraines may not seek help if they do not know that effective treatments exist. Meanwhile, migraine remains a frequent cause of school absenteeism.
Patients who exhibit two of the four symptoms may be diagnosed with migraine:
- Pain on one side of the head.
- Pain that is throbbing.
- Pain that increases with exertion.
- Pain that is moderate to severe.
Girls with migraine may also have sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, visual or speech changes signifying a migraine aura.
About the Headache Center at Capital Institute for Neurosciences
At the Headache Center, the Institute offers a multi-disciplinary approach to patients suffering from various types of headaches. Using a variety of pain assessment and diagnostic tools when needed, Dr. Assadi works with patients to identify the source of head pain. The center’s team also includes a clinical psychologist and a physician specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Together they determine the individual treatment that will best provide relief.
At the center patients have access to a variety of treatment approaches, including nerve and facet blocks, Botox™ injections, acupuncture, biofeedback, occipital nerve implants, and cervical manipulations, as well as behavioral and relaxation therapy.