LAHORE: Around 35 per cent female college and university students who complain of headaches in fact suffer from migraine, a study by the University of Health Sciences (UHS) has found.
The study surveyed a sample of 647 adult females from seven women’s colleges and universities who were experiencing regular headaches. It revealed that 59 per cent of unmarried women from the middle class, between 16 and 21 years of age, were suffering from migraine, known as ‘headache of half the skull.’
The study says the common migraine in Pakistan was a ‘pressure-like sensation,’ contrary to the International Headache Society’s description that migraine affectees suffer ‘pulsating’ pain. It says that the change might be due to racial, ethnic, geographical or environmental factors.
The study found that 35 per cent (226) of the 647 females were suffering from migraine. Of these seven percent (45) were diagnosed with migraine with aura (MWA), that is they perceived an ‘aura’ or warning, in the form of flickering lights or spots before the eyes or an odd smell, before the headache. The remaining 28 percent (181) were diagnosed as migraine without aura (MWOA).
The study suggested that the stress of university education and the pressure of getting married were the reasons behind the high occurrence of migraine. The study also found ‘front of the head’ to be the most common site of migraine headaches.
It said that the majority of Pakistanis who experienced headaches, including migraine did not generally seek medical care for it.
“Everyday headaches are treated with over-the-counter allopathic, homeopathic, herbal drugs or simple massages,” the study found.
It pointed out that a doctor must be consulted if severe headaches persist.
The report said that the clinical features of migraine were well-documented in many western countries but similar documentation had not taken place in Pakistan.
The study was conducted by Dr Faraz Bokhari, Waqas Sami, Tania Shakoor, Syed Ali and Ghulam Ali Qureshi.
Dr Bokhari told The Express Tribune that those suffering a migraine should rest and remain in darkness.
“Migraines have a correlation with the growth of sexual hormones in females,” he said. Migraine attacks are debilitating to regular life and early diagnosis can be helpful, he said. “Treatment can minimise the intensity of a migraine attack,” he said.
“We will now conduct the same research amongst medical students,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 9th, 2012.