- (CNN) -- Young and old suffer from headaches.
Doctors are now encouraging people to take their headaches seriously and
get treatment. From changing lifestyle and diet to taking medications,
there are things that can help alleviate the pain.
- Adults who have addressed their headache
have found they are more productive at work, while younger sufferers say
ridding themselves of the pain helped them in school.
- Headache costly to business
- A recent study found headaches place
not only a physical stress on those who have them, but a financial stress
- Researchers at the Michigan Head Pain
and Neurological Institute monitored the progress of headache patients
undergoing regular treatments in an effort to estimate the cost to employers.
- Marcia Hoeck was a headache sufferer.
The migraine headaches she had were so debilitating, she says, they affected
her performance as the owner of a marketing firm. "I lose my brainpower.
I say, 'I feel stupid, I feel dumb,' and I can't afford to do that in
a meeting," Hoeck says.
- When she sought treatment, she became
one of the test subjects in the study on the cost of headaches to employers.
- The headache "is a very costly illness,
with impacts for impairment and disability running up to $17 billion a
year nationwide," Dr. Joel Saper said.
- The cost to companies is due in large
part to lost productivity and time. People's reluctance to seek help makes
- Researchers say if businesses want to
dull the economic pain, treatment for headaches must be made more widely
available, and employers must be more understanding of those who suffer
- Saper says the investment in headache
treatment is a sound one and estimates each employee who seeks regular
treatment can save employers an average of more than $5,000 a year.
- Hoeck says the treatments she received,
which involved drugs and biofeedback, have made a huge difference in her
- "I'm much more likely to set up
back-to-back meetings and full schedules than before," Hoeck said.
- She says she is very sympathetic, as
an employer and a headache sufferer, when one of her staff complains of
a headache. She always encourages them to seek treatment.
- Children suffer headaches, too
- Headaches are not just an adult problem.
More than a million children and adolescents suffer from headaches of
- Seventeen-year-old Caitlin Zaino has
suffered from headaches since she was 8.
- "Generally it was just like a pounding
feeling ... a lot of pressure on my head and on my sinuses, and it hurt
my eyes -- sometimes my teeth," Zaino says.
- Her headaches were so bad, school became
- "I remember I was in third grade,
and I was missing a lot of school because I was always feeling sick,"
- Dr. Irving Fish, director of pediatric
neurology at New York University Medical Center in New York, says Zaino
is not alone.
- "About 85 percent of children by
the time they're 17 have had headaches severe enough to mention them to
their physician," Fish says. "From that, there's about 10 to
15 percent of children who have missed school."
- For children and adolescents, the most
common disabling headaches are migraines, with the same symptoms and triggers
as the adult variety.
- The second most common group is chronic
headaches, usually brought on by stress.
- The third and least common are headaches
due to underlying causes in the brain, such as bleeding, infection or brain
- Experts say there are telltale signs
look for to know if a child's headaches are serious.
- "If they're associated with other
symptoms such as a sensitivity to light and noise, if they're associated
with vomiting, if they leave a play group and come in and complain of headaches,
that's a sign that something ought to be looked at," Fish says.
- Fish says to treat headaches effectively
you often need more than just a pill.
- According to Fish what is needed is a
"multidisciplinary approach, which includes a nurse-practitioner
who addresses lifestyle issues, a social worker who addresses stress issues
and strategies to deal with them, and a nutritionist who addresses nutritional
triggers, especially in migraines."
- In Zaino's case the headaches were stress-related.
Since starting her treatment, Zaino says life has never been better. She
is now looking forward to starting college in the fall.
- "It's the first time since I can
remember since I was a kid that I actually don't have headaches, that I've
actually gone weeks feeling fine," Zaino says.
- Detroit Bureau Chief Ed Garsten and Medical
Correspondent Steve Salvatore contributed to this report.