Telemedicine for Migraines Helps Sufferers Avoid Triggering Stimuli
Migraines represent a significant challenge for Americans today, especially for American women between the ages of 12 and 40. What strategies should these migraine sufferers use to combat their symptoms, and can services via telemedicine for migraines help them feel better, faster? In this article, we’ll answer these questions and examine the prevalence of migraines in the USA.
According to research reported by the American Migraine Study II, 18.2% of women and 6.5% of men suffer from migraines. 23% of households had at least one member suffering from migraines.
Because severe migraines cause substantial impairment in 53% of sufferers, migraines represent a significant loss of productivity and, in many cases, required at least one day of bed rest. With 31% of migraine sufferers reporting at least 1 missed day of work or school in the previous quarter due to migraine, and a further 51% reporting that their work or school productivity was truncated by at least 50%, it’s clear that finding ways to treat and manage migraines remains a goal that, once attained, would improve the lives and increase measurable productivity of migraine sufferers.
While there are many stimuli that can trigger migraines, migraine sufferers are demonstrably more sensitive to light, sound, and smells than their migraine-free counterparts. Science is only recently uncovering the reasons that headaches are made so much worse by light exposure, but chances are, you’ve already experienced this phenomenon yourself at some point in time.
Migraines are intense neurological events that can be triggered by a wide variety of stimuli. Migraine patients are advised to identify their triggers and avoid them as often as possible.
Unfortunately, doctor’s offices, urgent care facilities, and emergency room departments are almost always lit harshly from overhead by fluorescent tubes or blue-toned LEDs. They are loud and busy, potentially introducing a barrage of scents (perfume and cologne among them) that could trigger or exacerbate an excruciating migraine event.
Clearly, due to their need for medical intervention, patients who are battling chronic migraines still need to stay in touch with their physicians despite these barriers to accessing care. Fortunately, telemedicine is an ideal treatment modality for migraine sufferers.
Migraines are diagnosed entirely by a series of questions that gradually exclude other types of headaches. Migraines almost always affect one side of the head rather than both sides. They often cause light and sound sensitivity, nausea, and vomiting. As mentioned, although some of these symptoms will remain active in the chronic migraine patient between attacks, the nature of the attacks themselves make the diagnosis obvious to the physician even in the absence of such symptoms.
Once a patient has been diagnosed with migraines, does telemedicine fit into the long-term care plan? Absolutely! Many physicians are beginning to treat migraine sufferers via telemedicine as often as possible.
After a patient has begun a treatment regimen, it’s likely that their physician will need to adjust their medications repeatedly over time or change the approach altogether. However, there’s usually no need for the patient to meet with the physician in the traditional office setting.
Telemedicine allows a migraineur to reach out to their physician via email, phone appointment, or video conference. Through these avenues, the doctor will be able to ask the patient about the frequency and intensity of their migraines, possible triggers, measures that have reduced their pain, and changes in their migraines since their last telemedicine appointment.
This approach allows a migraineur to fully engage with their medical treatment without repeatedly enduring situations that may trigger their migraines.
We interviewed a Northern California mother of two about her unusually frequent migraines, and she agreed to share her answers to our questions in return for anonymity. She reported:
“Because my chronic migraines are only one aspect of my illness, I used to push their management to the back burner. I’ve been actively ill since childhood, so it’s always a case of putting out big fires first. A few years ago, though, I started switching as many of my appointments as possible to telemedicine appointments. I’d schedule phone calls, send emails, and text with my doctors instead of going in to the office.
As a result, I’ve been able to be persistent in seeking help with my migraines. Unfortunately, migraines can be complicated, and I’m still looking for the right combo of meds and lifestyle modifications that will really give me full relief. However, I don’t feel like I’m struggling on my own, and having my medical team aware of the frequency of my migraines has meant that they’re prioritizing their treatment right now. None of that would have been possible without my telemedicine connections.”
As you can see, telemedicine represents the best option for this patient, and most physicians agree that the future of migraine care is remote rather than clinic-based. While acute, severe attacks will still warrant a visit to urgent care, the majority of migraine management can and arguably should cater to the comfort of the migraine patient. Telemedicine is currently our best avenue through which physicians can offer migraine sufferers real hope and truly attentive care.