You can help make a difference

I am sick and tired of all the sympathy, understanding, and support going to patients of other diseases while migraineurs are dismissed, ignored, and accused of faking our illness. Please don’t misunderstand, all patients with debilitating diseases deserve our caring, loving support. They deserve the best possible treatments and research dollars to find a cure. It’s just not fair that Migraine and other headache disorders are not taken as seriously. If I think about it too long, I get really angry. However, anger can be useful if it motivates you to facilitate change.

Here's the problem.

Much of the research into the cause of a disease is done by the National Institutes of Health. Various disease groups are allocated specific amounts of the NIH budget by Congress. It takes lobbying efforts to change a specific disease group’s allocation. The current budget for Migraine is $20 million per year. The most recent estimates tell us that there are over 38 million people with Migraine in the US.  That’s about 53¢ worth of research per person.

Out of 237 funding areas, Migraine ranked 190th with only $19 million allocated for 2013. The estimated amount for 2014 and 2015 is only $1 million more. Without the dedicated efforts of patient advocates who participate in Headache on the Hill each spring, we wouldn't even have that. Additionally, there is only $25 million allocated for Headaches in general and nothing allocated specifically for Cluster Headaches. That is a grand total of $34 million going toward research for over 200 different headache disorders.

In comparison, the 2013 NIH allocations for other diseases with similar disability profiles are almost all higher than for headache, migraine, or cluster headache.

Cancer$5,621 millionAutism$   192 million
HIV/AIDS$3,074 millionEpilepsy$   156 million
Aging$2,593 millionMS$   115 million
Diabetes$1,061 millionLupus$   108 million
Obesity$   836 millionCOPD$   101 million
Breast cancer$   800 millionChild leukemia$     77 million
Alcoholism$   455 millionInfertility$     74 million
Depression$   429 millionChron’s$     76 million
Colorectal cancer$   302 millionHuntington’s$     65 million
Pneumonia$   115 millionADHD$     60 million
Brain cancer$   281 millionALS$     44 million
STDs$   275 millionUterine cancer$     42 million
Arthritis$   258 millionSmallpox$     40 million
Influenza$   251 millionWest Nile Virus$     29 million
Lung cancer$   233 millionHeadache$     25 million
Asthma$   229 millionTMJ$     21 million
TB$   218 millionMigraine$     19 million
Hypertension$   215 millionCluster Headache$        ZERO

The latest estimates tell us that Migraine costs the US economy over $31 billion a year in lost productivity.  That doesn’t include the healthcare costs and the emotional toll it takes on families. Migraine patients are also at increased risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease, and major depression.

Fortunately , there is an opportunity to make a difference.

A large patient organization dedicated to raising awareness and research dollars can make a difference. That’s how cancer and HIV/AIDS got to the top of the list. Fortunately, an organization already exists just for migraine patients. It’s the American Headache and Migraine Association (AHMA). Sponsored by the American Headache Society, AHMA is dedicated to providing support and education to migraine and headache disorder patients and their families. Whether you struggle with daily migraine attacks or have achieved total remission, AHMA is for you. If you’d like to know about AHMA and how you can be a part, just visit Membership is affordable and open to patients with all types of headache disorders, not just Migraine.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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