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Tens of thousands of Irish people are facing their romantic and sex lives being damaged by chronic pain, a study revealed yesterday.

1.65 million sufferers nationwide live with acute and persistent discomfort in Ireland, which takes a toll on work, sleep, leisure and relationships.

35 percent of study participants claimed that the persistent pain had deeply affected their sex lives, with 17 percent saying their pain had a huge impact on their physical relationships.

Chronic pain is defined by health experts and doctors as over 12 weeks of consistent pain, with the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists saying three-out-of-four sufferers can't live regular lives

Among those with chronic pain, almost half reported that their ability to sleep had been damaged. 

Dr Brona Fullen of the UCD School of Public Health said:

“Living with persistent pain is not easy. Not only does it impact on on physical well-being but also your mental health. Emotions such as worry, stress, anxiety, low mood, fear and anger can develop.”

The survey interviewed 1,000 people, with 434 reporting that they had suffered chronic pain at one part in their lives.

75 percent said that it had a negative impact on their social activities and exercise. 70 percent of sufferers admitted that it damaged their ability to take part in family life and playing with their children.

Chronic pain is costing the taxpayer billions each year, according to the ISCP. This Sunday marks World Physiotherapy Day, with the 2019 theme being chronic pain.

The normal tissue healing frame is three-to-six months, and most chronic pain conditions have no apparent biological value. The causes and cures of female pain disorders are especially under-researched.

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Migraines are NOT just bad headaches. They disrupt people’s lives. They take people away from work, from their families, from their social lives. They cause immense pain, a loss of appetite, dizziness and photophobia. 

For Ciara O’ Rourke, migraine patient and mum-of-three, her symptoms leave her with a severe throbbing headache, a pain that feels like a heaviness on her head that leaves her struggling to lift her head during an attack.

“I get a severe throbbing headache, nausea and vomiting, photophobia (sensitivity to light), lack of appetite and sensitivity to noise. As you can imagine those symptoms impact on all aspects of my life but one of the toughest ones for me is the nausea and vomiting as I can get quite severe bouts of my attack which can last three days. I also have young children, so I hate when they see me sick or I need to be away from them resting. It’s so difficult to not be able to spend time with them.”

 

Ciara explained that migraines are a lot more severe than people believe. “Migraine has affected my whole life. As a mum of three, having migraines means that it can sometimes be hard to look after my children. Thankfully, I have my husband who is a fantastic support system to me and he rows in where he can. In terms of my social life, it can be hard to meet friends and family and it’s hard to make plans because you never know when a migraine attack will occur. 

Ciara has been experiencing migraines since her early twenties and she’s tired of people claiming they’re simply just bad headaches, because they’re so much more than that. A study by Teva recently found that 40 percent of people believe migraine to be ‘just a bad headache’

This statistic shocked Ciara, “I know first-hand what it’s like to live with migraine and with 1 in 7 Irish people suffering from migraine, you’d think that there would be a better understanding around the condition but the awareness just isn’t there. 

She stressed, “That’s why this campaign by Teva Pharmaceuticals is so important. We want to drive awareness of the condition and hopefully reduce stigma associated with it.”

"Over the years I’ve had people who didn’t understand the full effects of migraine and assumed it was ‘just a bad headache’. I certainly have had people say to me that I should just get over it and that I was just overreacting to a headache. I am lucky that the people who know me best understand the true nature of migraines. My hope is that through this Teva campaign, we can create more awareness around migraine so that more people can understand what it is really like. Hopefully more people will begin to understand what migraine sufferers really experience and they won’t be so quick to judge."

If you are suffering with migraines, it is important to talk to your GP and get a referral to a Constultant Neurologist so that they can assess your needs properly. 

Teva launched their migraine awareness campaign this week. You can find out more about it here.

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Oh dear. None of us want to hear the following life-altering news: Coffee may not the ambrosia of the gods after all… Especially for those who suffer from migraines.

Image result for lorelai gilmore coffee

Coffee makes life a little easier for those of us who can't cope with early mornings. Be it a steaming hot cup first when you reach the office (well, lukewarm at best) or a speedy shot as you dash for the bus or train. Coffee is not a luxury. It’s a necessity.

However, this recent discovery might put a spanner in the works for coffee lovers worldwide.

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This year, a study carried out by the department of epidemiology at Harvard University was published in the American Journal Of Medicine. The research showed a link between the consumption of coffee and the occurrence of migraines.

In the study, 98 adults who suffered from episodic migraines kept electronic diaries for six weeks. They recorded how many caffeinated beverages they had each day as well as the characteristics and timings of their migraines.

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The study concluded that there was a "statistically significant nonlinear association between the number of caffeinated beverages and the odds of migraine headache occurrence on that day." In other words, it suggests that migraines can be triggered by a high consumption of caffeinated beverages.

However, Elizabeth Mostofsky who lead the study, reassured readers of Healthline that one or two cups isn’t too bad. Mostofsky stated that she was “pleasantly surprised to see one to two servings was not associated with the odds of having a migraine headache and it was three or more servings that lead to a migraine on that day or on the following day”.

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I don’t know about you, but this makes a lot of sense to me. As someone who suffers from migraines and drinks an average of three cups of coffee per day- along with a half-pot of tea- this research resonates. It’s time to rethink our coffee consumption.

One question though… how bad would it be to use wine as a replacement?

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Anyone who suffers with migraine will know that it is all-consuming – for the majority of people, you will have to stop what you are doing completely until it subsides. While a tablet may do the trick when things get particularly bad, you don’t want to have to rely on painkilling medication, so here are some natural alternatives.

1. Acupuncture

Various studies have shown that this ancient practice is extremely effective in the treatment of migraines, although reports vary from patient to patient. It might be worth doing a little research into this one, perhaps with your GP.

2. Peppermint Oil

This is great for tension headaches, in particular. Not only does peppermint help blood flow, but it also opens up your sinuses to allow the flow of oxygen to the site of the pain.

3. Vitamin B

Also known as riboflavin, a deficiency of this vitamin is often what is behind a migraine. If you think you might be Vitamin B-deficient, consult with your doctor to see if your levels are correct; turning the problem around could be as simple as eating more Vitamin B-containing foods such as eggs, vegetables, whole cereals, fish and poultry.

4. Flaxseed

Many migraines are caused by inflammation, which can be reduced by consuming omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseed is rich in these omega-3 acids, so try sprinkling a spoonful into your morning porridge or cereal to start the day off right.

5. Lavender Oil

Lavender is known for its healing properties, and it has proven particularly effective for patients suffering with migraines and headaches. Lavender Oil can be applied topically or inhaled – never ingested.

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The newly published results of a survey on Irish people with frequent and severe migraine attacks reveal the condition is having a significant negative impact on their lives, including damaging their career progression and earnings. Migraine is Ireland’s fifth leading cause of disability, affecting almost one in eight people. While it affects people of all ages and genders it is three times more common in women than men.  

Despite its high prevalence, migraine remains a misunderstood and under-managed condition. This survey, which focusses on the small section of the population who have at least four migraines per month, was part of a global patient study undertaken by Novartis in partnership with the European Migraine and Health Alliance in 36 countries, to establish how frequent and severe migraine affects daily life. The Irish results are contained in a new report, My Migraine Voice, which was launched in Cork today.

Most (84 percent) of the respondents in the Irish arm of the survey who are in full or part-time employment or self-employed said that their migraine has negatively impacted their professional life. Some 15 percent said it has caused them to change jobs, while 13 percent changed their profession or career path due to their condition while more than one in ten (12 percent) actually lost their job because of their condition. Furthermore, many sufferers are not in receipt of sick pay for their migraine, creating financial repercussions beyond the patient and their family, in terms of lost productivity and absenteeism. Unsurprisingly, 89 percent said they fear their next migraine attack.

While most (75 percent) said their employers were aware of their condition, recognition of their condition is often poor with less than one in three saying their employer offered them any support. Issues emerge with colleagues too. Over a third (36 percent) felt judged for taking days off work with a quarter of respondents in employment saying their colleagues do not understand their migraine. A small but significant minority (8 percent) confessed to being bullied at work due to their condition.

Dr Eddie O’Sullivan, General Practitioner and Director of the Migraine Clinic at Cork University Hospital, who presented the survey results, believes that the severity of migraine and its wider impact is often misunderstood and frequently dismissed. He highlighted the high level of medical resources that are used to support and treat people with frequent and severe migraine. “While GPs like myself are most frequently visited, this group saw a neurologist an average of four times a year. Moreover, nearly a third (31percent) had to attend Accident and Emergency Departments while almost a quarter (23 percent) needed to be hospitalised due to a migraine attack. With new developments in migraine, I would hope that this will change and migraine can be better managed in the community, at Primary Care level.”

Patrick Little CEO, Migraine Association of Ireland, echoed this view. “The findings suggest a worrying inability to support and treat migraine sufferers adequately, which is particularly alarming when one considers that this is a condition that the World Health Organisation has recognised as the fourth leading cause of disability in women worldwide.”

Launching the report yesterday evening, Deputy Michael McGrath said that despite the severity of the condition, a large number of people with frequent migraine continue to work. “Yet this report really drives home the negative impact migraine is having on their professional careers. It highlights the daily struggles that they face, the career paths that have changed or stalled completely and the jobs that have been lost, all of which point to the huge personal and financial burden that comes with this painful condition.“

Other results from the survey include:

  • Most Irish patients (89 percent) with frequent or severe migraine spend long periods in darkness or isolation, on average 32 hours per month.
  • 89 percent of those with frequent or severe migraine are taking a preventative treatment. However most of the treatments are not actually licenced for migraine
  • For 73 percent, each attack last more than a day, with 20 percent saying their attacks lasted up to three days.
  • 71 percent said that migraine interfered substantially in their daily lives with 94 percent cancelling plans in the previous month due to migraine attacks.

For full details of the survey, My Migraine Voice, visit www.novartis.ie

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Migraines can be very debilitating for sufferers as they can be intense.

They can often last up to 72 hours and include sensitivity to light, sound or smell as well as nausea. Very unpleasant!

While there is nothing wrong with using medicinal purposes advised by your doctor to help your migraines, you may find some of these more natural remedies may help ease the pain also.

While none of the following remedies are clinically proven to cure migraines, it is believed they help ease the severity.

1. Acupuncture
The ancient practice is said to ease migraine pain.

2. Ginger
Ginger is known to help ease headaches and migraines are no exception. Drink ginger tea or have it in a smoothie.

3. Butterbur
The root extracts of this plant are said to reduce the severity and frequency of migraines.

4. Tiger Balm
This is a herbal formulation that may help ease headaches.

5. Lavender
Lavender has long been famed for it’s soothing and relaxing properties. Try using a lavender pillow or essential oil.

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