22 March 2006

Headaches affect quality of life

A simple quality of life questionnaire provides patients with a handy tool that they can use to measure the impact headaches have on their quality of life.

Although most headaches are not life-threatening, they can diminish a sufferer’s quality of life as severely as serious medical conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Fortunately, a simple quality of life questionnaire provides patients with a handy tool that they can use to scientifically benchmark the impact headaches or migraines are having on their quality of life.

"A number of peer-reviewed medical studies reveal that people who suffer from regular migraine attacks generally have a worse quality of life than those with diabetes, high blood pressure or osteoarthritis. They have quality of life that is comparable to people with congestive heart failure who have had a recent heart attack," says Dr Elliot Shevel, medical director at The Headache Clinic.

"These studies paint an alarming picture of the severity of migraine pain and the impact that it has on a person’s quality of life. An especially disturbing fact is that migraine is most prevalent among people between the ages of 25 and 55, the time of life when most people are at their economic peak and in the midst of raising their families."

Huge impact on life
Medical research shows that more than 70% of migraine sufferers experience impairment in interpersonal relationships, including work relationships. The incidence of depression and the loss of short-term memory, which also drain a sufferer’s productivity and happiness, are both more frequently found among headache sufferers.

"Migraines or other acute or chronic forms of primary headache, combined with associated conditions such as depression can put strain on relationships and cause poor performance at work, even leading to complete collapse of relationships and loss of employment," says Dr Shevel.

People who suspect that their lives are not as productive and happy as they should be because of migraine or headaches, can take a free, simple survey available on The Headache Clinic’s website.

This Quality of Life test asks 14 questions that provide a scientifically accurate picture of how much headaches impact on a person’s ability to function at home and at work. The assessment, used by the leading international headache journals, is available free of charge at www.headacheclinic.co.za.

The internationally recognised questionnaire measures the extent to which headaches are affecting a person’s ability to function normally from three specific angles:

  • The percentage of time that the patient is unable to function
  • The percentage of normal output the patient is able to give when he or she continues to perform normal tasks and activities, despite headache pain.
  • The percentage of normal emotional function at which headaches allow the patient to operate.

The results of the test are returned instantaneously, with percentage scores for each of the three variables. Dr Shevel has used this test in some of the studies that he and the rest of The Headache Clinic medical team have published throughout the world.

At the 2003 International Headache Society Congress in Rome, Dr Shevel presented results of one of The Headache Clinic's patented processes for treating chronic daily headaches. The treatment, which is a drug-free permanent approach developed by The Headache Clinic, improved the overall quality of life of people with chronic daily headaches by an average of 42.3%.

"People who need help for headaches or migraines should turn to a medical service provider that can help them identify the root cause of their headaches through a multidisciplinary assessment," says Dr Shevel.

"A multidisciplinary assessment combines and integrates the expertise of different specialists who would normally treat headache patients in isolation into a single body of knowledge. Working together, such a team of specialists can address all factors that contribute to the patient's headache, prevent future headaches and restore the patient’s quality of life." - The Headache Clinic, 0861 678 911


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Headache expert

Dr Elliot Shevel is a South African migraine surgery pioneer and the founder and medical director of The Headache Clinic in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, South Africa. The Headache Clinic is a multidisciplinary practice dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of Primary Headaches and Migraines. Dr Shevel is also the main author of all scientific publications generated by his team. He recently won a high level science debate in which he was able to prove that the current migraine diagnosis and classification is not based on data. Tertiary Education - Dr Shevel holds both Dental and Medical degrees, and practises as a specialist Maxillo-facial and Oral Surgeon. Follow the Headache Clinic on Twitter@HeadacheClinic.

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