Take Control of Headaches and Migraines with Headache U

Patient Expert

National Headache Awareness Week 2009

June 7 - 13 is National Headache Awareness Week (NHAW) this year. A host of educational events and programs are happening around the country throughout National Headache Awareness Week, which is sponsored by the National Headache Foundation (NHF). NHAW is meant to educate people about headache and Migraine causes, impact and help.

Each year, 90% of all men and 95% of all women have at least one headache or Migraine. Despite many people having frequent and sometimes severe headaches and Migraines that affect their family, social and work life, most do not actively seek relief from their condition . Experts say the complacency is puzzling because relief is available, but begins with an understanding that headaches and Migraines are very personal. Four simple strategies can get sufferers on the right course to relief:

• Realize that headaches matter, and take your headaches seriously;

• Learn all you can - be a student of your own headaches;

• Pay more attention to your personal headache patterns - track your headaches, and try to find clues to triggers and solutions;

• Take control and get the help and care you deserve: many resources are available.

Suzanne Simons, Executive Director of the NHF told me,

"This year, the theme of National Headache Awareness Week, really points to the personal nature of headaches and empowering people with headache to be more proactive in their care. The Chart Your Course to Relief tool is unlike any other available. By answering the questions, people with headache will receive resources based on their answers and specific needs. This interactive tool will engage visitors to check back often to see what is new."

"In May, the National Headache Foundation launched the Migraine Million campaign. Our goal is to have one million of the nearly 30 million people with migraine give $1 each. This money will be used to further migraine education and research. People with migraine are encouraged to visit www.headaches.org/Migraine_Million_campaign to make a contribution to this campaign which we hope will go viral and help us reach our goal."

Timed for the launch of NHAW, the NHF is launching "Headache U: It's all about YOU," the first headache and Migraine education program of its kind designed to help people with headache disorders take important steps toward getting relief. The program is offered beginning today on the NHF website at www.headaches.org.

Roger Cady, M.D., vice president of the NHF board of directors, and director of the Headache Care Center in Springfield, Missouri, says,

"No one has the same combination of headache pain, frequency, impairment or triggers. So, the approach to headache care needs to be as personal as the headaches. The sufferer needs to get involved in charting a course to relief based upon an understanding of their own personal headache patterns, and getting connected with helpful, sometimes life-changing resources."

Headache U is a new education portal on the NHF website. Developed under the guidance of an advisory panel of both physicians who specialize in headache and Migraine care, and people with headache disorders, Headache U will contain a series of patient education resources and tools. The first tool introduced today is "Chart Your Course to Headache Relief: a personal headache care tool," which asks people with headache disorders questions about their experiences, and based upon the information given, guides them toward resources that are relevant to their needs.

For example, those people with headache who indicate they can't afford headache or Migraine care are offered tips on how to have a financial discussion with their healthcare provider, and information on alternative therapies. People who say they have difficulty discussing their headaches and Migraines, are offered tips for understanding and communicating their symptoms and the impact headache or Migraine disease is having on their lives.

Suzanne Simons, executive director for the NHF comments on the value of this new tool,

"Sometimes websites can contain an overwhelming amount of information. This tool quickly gets people to the information that should be helpful specifically to them."

Why It's Personal; Erin Hamlin Charts Her Course What makes headache and Migraine such personal conditions is the varying degree of headache and Migraine experiences, which can range from mild tension headaches every so often to chronic, crippling Migraines. And some people can experience a combination of different types of headache disorders, with varying severity and disability. Worse yet, these headaches and Migraines can be triggered by a variety of physical and environmental factors - from hormones to weather, stress to diet - and even those triggers can be different combinations for different people. As a result, an individualized approach is key to getting relief from headaches.

"People with headaches are all over the map when it comes to their process in seeking relief. But the critical first step is to really get to know their personal headache patterns, and this new tool helps them do that," says Dr. Cady.

World champion luger Erin Hamlin has begun to chart her course to relief -- she was among the first to use the tool available through Headache U. During the day before the 2009 Luge World Championship, Hamlin suffered a debilitating Migraine and went on to win gold the next day, becoming the first U.S. woman to win the World Championship title. She has since learned about the tips and resources available from the NHF, and is not only committed to getting relief, but also to helping others. She recently signed on as a spokesperson for the organization, and is participating in educational activities.

Erin says,

"I want to feel like I have some control over my headaches. With my travel and training schedule, I can't afford to be down. I owe it to my country, teammates, fans and family to be at the top of my game, and learning more about my headache patterns with these NHF tools is helping me -- and others -- achieve that."

About the NHF One of MyMigraineConnection.com's nonprofit affiliates, the NHF is a nonprofit organization that has been helping people with headache for nearly 40 years. It is a source of help to sufferers' families, physicians who treat headache sufferers, allied healthcare professionals and to the public. The leaders of the organization are world-renowned experts in the field who have pulled together many easy-to-use tools and resources to help people better understand headaches and options for headache care. This information is available on the NHF website at www.headaches.org or by calling 1-888-NHF-5552 (M-F, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT).

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