When does a migraine condition turn into a chronic disease? Although physicians often refer to chronic illnesses as those that persist for more than 12 months, migraine conditions tend to be a little different. For example, a woman who regularly suffers three migraine episodes per year that collectively last a couple of hours can be considered as a chronic migraine patient, but her quality of life is decidedly better than that of a patient who suffers one episode each week.
In general terms, chronic migraine patients are those who experience two or more debilitating episodes per month. The majority of these patients tend to experience aura phases prior to their headaches, and they make up less than 20 percent of the global migraine population, which is estimated to be in the billions. This means that there are millions of people around the world whose migraine conditions are chronic to the point that they need to adopt certain skills and measures in their lives in order to cope with their diseases.
Migraine patients are hardly alone when it comes to chronic disease. Some examples of chronic illness include:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
Getting into Your TreatmentStress is the most serious effect of living with a chronic condition. For migraine patients, stress is the most common trigger of headache episodes. There are multiple ways of reducing stress and simply reviewing all the different methods can be stressful, but there is a simple way to minimize the stress caused by chronic conditions that is seldom discussed, and that is to become involved in treatment. The key to accomplishing this is to actually apply an interest in the treatment plan and turn into an active participant. This entails asking questions from health care professionals, reaching out to other patients, giving opinions and staying up-to-date on medical research studies.
Accepting Chronic ConditionsLiving with a chronic condition requires a high degree of acceptance. For chronic migraine patients, acceptance must go beyond realizing that they could go through a headache episode at any time. The process of acceptance should be gradual and conscious; patients must accept one aspect of their lives at a time. For example, migraine patients who are also college students must accept the possibility of missing classes and falling behind on their studies because of their headaches; the next accept of life these students must accept is that they may not be able to graduate at the same time as their classmates.
Coordinating TreatmentSome unfortunate patients must deal with more than one chronic condition at a time. It is very possible for older migraine patients to deal with diabetes and vascular disease along with their headaches. Ideally, health care professionals who treat one condition would seek to reach out to their colleagues and coordinate their treatment plans; unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Patients should take it upon themselves to be their own coordinators and bring their physicians and therapists together. Once coordination has been suggested and introductions have been made, the quality of life of patients can greatly improve.
Following a Healthy Lifestyle
Chronic disease cannot always be prevented, but our lives can always be improved. Smoking cessation, proper nutrition, regular exercise, and adequate sleep patterns can go a long way in making patients feel better as they try to cope with their chronic conditions. It all goes back to the point of getting into your treatment; most physicians recommend exercise and proper nutrition as part of the treatment plans they prescribe, but many patients tend to skip over them when they should actually be getting into them.
*Image courtesy of Jennifer