How long did it take for you to get YOUR migraine diagnosis?

How long did it take before you were told that your symptoms were caused by migraine? If you were anything like the sample of migraine patients reported in the February 2011 issue of the journal Headache, it probably took a long time.

Dr. Viticchi and colleagues from the Polytechnic University of Marche in Italy surveyed 250 consecutive patients who were newly diagnosed with migraine to find out how long they'd been suffering. They also tried to identify those factors that led to a longer delay in getting the right diagnosis.

What they found was not good news -- it took over five years for more than half of the patients to get their migraine diagnosis. About one in three patients were diagnosed after one to five years and seventeen percent got their diagnosis in less than 12 months.

Those factors that resulted in a delay in diagnosis were a bit surprising:

  • Being a woman did NOT make it more likely that you'd get a migraine diagnosis earlier.
  • Having migraines begin when you were a younger age made it less likely that your migraines would be diagnosed.
  • Individuals with less education were also less likely to get diagnosed.

And did these patients not get diagnosed because they hadn't seen the right type of doctor? Over two in five patients had already seen at least one specialist while they remained undiagnosed. Over half of the patients for whom the diagnosis was delayed by over five years had previously seen at least one specialist. And interestingly, getting testing done or not didn't seem to make a difference in how long it took to get a migraine diagnosis.

What did these researchers conclude?

  • Patients and their doctors need to get better educated about migraines
  • Expensive and unnecessary diagnostic tests don't improve the diagnosis of migraine or reduce patient symptoms

If you think you might be having migraines, a migraine journal to help characterize your symptoms and take the results to your doctor. Don't wait years before getting your diagnosis.

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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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