Sufferers urged to re-establish self-care routines
A recent survey from Migraine and Headache Australia reveals that self-care rituals, that help with stress or anxiety, have fallen by the wayside, with 39% of those surveyed reporting a decrease in overall exercise and almost half (46%) not getting enough sleep. Australians are reminded to re-establish self-care routines as a powerful tool to aid migraine and headache management by adopting a small but simple act each day.
The research1, originally commissioned by neurologist, Dr Bronwyn Jenkins, in collaboration with Migraine & Headache Australia and Hydralyte, repeated the survey that was launched in 2020 after increasing COVID-19 infections found headaches as an ongoing symptom.
Alarmingly, over a third (37%) of the group reported an increase in migraine and headache episodes following a COVID-19 infection. One fifth (17%) of research participants experienced a persistent increase in headache burden for more than 3 months since recovering from the virus.
Almost half (47%) of Aussies surveyed have experienced less frequent migraine or headache this year which is a pleasing result considering 41% reported an increase in severity at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.
Some people living with migraine or headache (46%) are thanking their employers: saying that working from home has not only made them more productive (55%) but has allowed for a better work-life balance (60%) and almost all of the respondents are less bothered by light and noise at home (91%).
Despite more than half (54%) of the respondents still experiencing debilitating migraine and headache while working from home, the data suggests that lifestyle changes have made it easier to manage episodes and respond to triggers more quickly than before the pandemic.
The research also reveals that rates of unemployment were higher in migraine and headache sufferers than the general population and 11% of respondents were unable to work due to their health, up from 6% in 2020.
Dr Jenkins said the new data is interesting and its positive nature is unexpected given we continue to have rising COVID-19 cases.
“There are many positive aspects from this research for people living with migraine disorder, and while different self-care routines will vary in effectiveness for each person, they can be a great addition to clinical treatment for migraine management,” Dr Jenkins said.
“Making small yet consistent lifestyle tweaks as simple as staying hydrated, can have a positive impact and help reduce the frequency or severity of migraine and headache.”
With all that said, Dr Jenkins does warn the population that anxiety and depression continues to have the strongest correlation to worsening the frequency of migraine attacks and should remain a strong consideration and well-managed factor in migraine disorder when ever present.
“The research told us that 76% are experiencing the same or more stress than in 2020, and many still feel depressed or have feelings of sadness,” Dr Jenkins added.
Carl Cincinnato, Executive Director at Migraine & Headache Australia, agrees with the importance of self-care routines: “By improving sleep, prioritising hydration, reducing screen time and monitoring alcohol consumption, small self-care routines can help those living with headache and migraine to better manage their condition and improve their quality of life.”
Migraine & Headache Awareness Week aims to put a spotlight on the importance of self-care routines and encourage Australians to establish or continue their routines tailored to each individual. Implementing a few positive changes can be a powerful aid in migraine and headache management.
On Wednesday 21 September at 7.30 pm, Dr Bronwyn Jenkins will be hosting an online public webinar delving into the full research findings. Registration is required.
For information on Migraine and Headache Awareness Week and to attend, visit https://headacheaustralia.org.au/migraine-headache-awareness-week-2022/
1 Dr Bronwyn Jenkins and Carl Cincinnato (Migraine & Headache Australia). The effect of a sudden change in lifestyle on migraine attacks during the Covid-19 pandemic: an Australian perspective. Data available on file.
2 Migraine Buddy Data. Based on self-reported triggers of app users in 2022. Noting 1.8 million users worldwide.