In a recent online survey, the National Headache Foundation queried Web site visitors regarding how the economic downturn is affecting them and how they manage their headaches and Migraines. Not surprisingly, the study reveals that they make significant changes in headache and Migraine treatment and prevention methods during a financial crisis.
The survey revealed that 82% of respondents claim to have made financial cut-backs due to the current economic situation. For example, more than half (62%) of respondents reported making dietary changes in response to the rising costs of food. Additionally, stress, lack of sleep and anxiety were cited by survey-takers as the top three triggers for their headaches or Migraines. All of these conditions were also reported as occurring as a result of the economic strain on the participants' lifestyles.
When asked about treatment methods, we found that 63% rely on prescribed medications for their headache or Migraine. However, the economic toll has caused 29% of the respondents to either delay or skip filling prescriptions for these medications. More than half answered that they switched to over-the-counter (OTC) medication instead of using their prescription medication to treat their headaches or Migraines in an effort to save money. Substituting OTCs may be ineffective for treating Migraine, causing undue pain and suffering.
Other survey results demonstrated that 43% of respondents said they have made changes in spending on healthcare purchases such as services or medications. Another 48% reported "concern or uncertainty about the future" as a trigger. An even 50% of respondents attributed dietary changes as having an effect on their headaches or Migraines.
So what can you do to weather this economic storm? Here are a few tips:
- If you are unable to afford your medication, many pharmaceutical companies offer patient assistance programs. Talk to your doctor or visit the Tools for Sufferers section of the NHF Web site for a list of available programs.
- Talk to your doctor about your financial situation; there may be a generic form of your prescription available.
- Be aware of your individual food triggers. When making grocery choices, try to maintain a healthy diet and consider purchasing store brand items rather than name brand products.
- Practice relaxation techniques such as guided imagery or visualization.
- Include exercise in your daily routine, even a brisk walk can help to reduce stress.
- Lastly, remember that the financial turmoil we are currently experiencing is temporary. While it may take some time to turn around, the situation will get better and keeping a positive outlook may help to lessen the emotional and physical impact of these volatile economic times.