Coping with back to school migraines

September 25, 2011

Headaches plagued Ania Swinarski during high school, and then followed her into college.

"It took me a while to realize they weren't regular headaches. It wasn't until my 35-hour migraine that I was like, 'I don't know what this is, but I need to see a specialist,'" said Swinarski.

Her quest for help brought her to headache specialist Dr. Noah Rosen, who says the teenage years are prime time for migraines.

When kids have to deal with migraines plus school, that means doubles the trouble.

"A lot of them are told that they're just missing time because they don't want to be in school, or they're using it as an excuse, while a lot of them have to work twice as hard to make up for the problem," said Dr. Rosen.

Dr. Rosen is leading a campaign for the American Migraine Foundation to make students and educators more "migraine aware."

"A lot of people, if they don't suffer from migraine themselves, don't understand what's going on in individuals. That can be teachers, it can be principals, it can even be the school nurse," said Dr. Rosen.

The campaign is a multi-media one, designed to reach all ages.

"It incorporates a number of things including PowerPoint presentations, tear-off materials, and headache calendars," said Dr. Rosen.

Swinarski thinks more awareness early on would have helped her.

"First of all, I would have known what I had, and known that I should seek help, which would have avoided, having a 35-hour migraine. And it also would have prevented me from getting so worried," said Swinarski.

Materials for the program are available online from the American Migraine Foundation.

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