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New survey reveals women struggle to find timely relief for migraine pain

Woman with headache

80% of women surveyed are unhappy with how their migraines are managed.

Migraine continues to impose a significant impact on women in Australia due to the time it takes to control migraine symptoms, according to new research by women’s healthcare company, Organon. A national survey of over 1,000 women aged between 21 – 50 years old, ‘Australian Women and Migraine’, found that in 2022, migraine attacks are still taking too long to be controlled, with women revealing it can take up to eight hours to manage symptoms.

Almost half of women diagnosed with migraine experience the worst of their symptoms within the first hour. Migraine is a common neurological disorder impacting almost 5 million people, mainly women in Australia. The survey revealed 80% of women living with migraine feel unsatisfied with how they manage the symptoms. Three-quarters (70%) of these women say they can’t stop a migraine attack from occurring and two-thirds (68%) can’t reduce their symptoms fast enough. Of the 62% of women who experience migraines at work, the lighting in the office (63%) and loud music and conversations (52%) were identified as common triggers.

“Lights are a major trigger for my migraine and playing netball professionally meant bright lights were almost impossible to avoid. Game day was the worst time for me to experience an attack, it wasn’t possible to just push through the intense pain, I needed effective solutions quickly to ensure I didn’t miss out on court time”, says Bianca Chatfield, professional Netballer winning a World Championship and two Commonwealth Games medals, Sports Commentator living with migraine.

“A migraine attack can alter my whole day, my vision is impacted and I suffer from loss of concentration. For a long time, my car became my ‘safe haven’ where I’d recoup if I experienced an attack out of the home and wait until the symptoms subsided. However, this isn’t feasible with a busy work schedule and a young child – we need better treatment options!”

A shocking 61% of women surveyed living with episodic migraines blame the lack of better solutions as a barrier to managing their migraines. The majority (80%) of women living with episodic migraine attacks find themselves isolated in a dark quiet room to deal with the pain.

“The Organon survey reveals a concerning epidemic of women living with episodic migraine in Australia who are still not getting relief fast enough,” said Carl Cincinnato, Director of Migraine and Headache Australia. “Women should not be forced to retreat into a quiet, dark room to manage their symptoms in isolation. Having timely access to adequate treatment is essential to help take control of this common and deeply debilitating condition.”

The survey showed migraine has significantly impacted Australian women in the following areas of their lives:

Work and career progression: Of the 62% of women who experience migraine attacks at work, less than half (48%) feel comfortable speaking to their manager about their migraine and 41% believe living with migraine has negatively impacted their career prospects including promotions and bonuses.

Social life: More than two-thirds (69%) feel they miss out on being able to enjoy time with family and friends.

Parenting: Most mothers (71%) say they feel guilty about missing time with family and friends when they have a migraine with two thirds (66%) having to make alternative arrangements for their families such as school pick-up, sports and meals.

Productivity and concentration: Of the 62% of women who experience migraines at work, over half (60%) admit to losing concentration.

Carl Cincinnato said, “It’s great to have a comprehensive survey showing the impact and experiences of Australian women living with migraine. The survey findings reflect what our members tell us about the difficulty of managing migraine symptoms and the disruption it has on their day-to-day activities. Our members report that managing the symptoms in a timely way is critical.”

From November, people diagnosed with migraine will have access to MAXALT Migraine Relief, which is available from your pharmacist without the need for a prescription. Ask your pharmacist about this product, as their advice is required. The survey revealed this will remove one of the major barriers to optimal migraine management, as only 15% of women surveyed said they carried their script with them preventing quick access to treatment.

Nirelle Tolstoshev, Managing Director of Organon ANZ, said, “We know that women are twice as likely to be affected by migraine than men, and the painful symptoms and debilitating impact on women and their families and careers are underestimated.3 At Organon, we are committed to continuing to empower these women to actively manage their migraines and help them to get back to the things they love doing faster.”

Photo by Karolina Grabowska via Pexels.

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