Headache Research Faces Severe Underfunding Crisis in 2018

Almost everyone knows someone who has experienced a migraine. However, there are many different types of headaches that are still misunderstood and often misdiagnosed. For example, millions of Americans suffer from debilitating cluster headaches, a condition often associated with seasonal changes and environmental stimuli. Eighty percent of individuals with this condition report excruciating pain behind one eye lasting from 15 minutes to three hours as often as 8 times a day. Neurologist Brian M Grosberg, who treats people with severe headaches describes these events as “one of the most painful conditions a person can experience.” Symptoms range from profuse sweating, swelling eyelids and excessive tearing to the inability to work. Over 50% of cluster headache sufferers have contemplated suicide.

Past studies have produced innovative solutions to reduce the financial hardship, and physical and emotional trauma for many headache sufferers. More research is needed to develop better testing and treatment protocol. Sadly, the National Institute of Health (NIH) data show that research funding in this area is declining, down 20 percent since 2013. While all headache types collectively are the third highest cause of years lost to disability globally, 2018 NIH funding estimates reveal limited funding may slow ongoing efforts to bring relief to individuals whose lives are negatively impacted by chronic headaches.

Many people do not know that nearly 1 in 4 U.S. households include someone with migraines and that more than 90% of sufferers are unable to work or function normally during their migraine. Employers are often faced with the cost of unpredictable and recurring absences. The cost is high for individuals and businesses. In addition, there is little help to solve the problem.

With national funding on the decline, the Will Erwin Headache Research Center needs private donations more than ever before. Funding will ensure our dedicated physicians and researchers can continue studying debilitating headaches through a planned national collaborative effort.

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