US soldiers increasingly exposed to migraine

August 28th, 2008 - 2:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 28 (IANS) US military personnel are becoming increasingly vulnerable to migraine, but their condition is often underdiagnosed, according to two studies. These studies examine the incidence among soldiers within 10 days of returning from a year-long stint in Iraq as well as commissioned officers under training.

“Our hope is that this research will improve the screening process for migraine in soldiers and increase education about migraine for soldiers and their health-care providers,” said Erek K. Helseth and Captain Brett J. Theeler, co-authors of the studies.

The report appeared in Headache, the journal of the American Headache Society.

The active-duty military population comprises young adults, which is the most exposed to migraine risk. However, the reported rates are higher than those of similar age in the general population.

The findings show that 19 percent of soldiers returning from Iraq screened positive for migraine and an additional 17 percent screened positive for possible migraine.

Soldiers with a positive migraine screen suffered a mean average of 3.1 headache days per month, headache durations of 5.2 hours and 2.4 impaired duty days per month due to headache.

Soldiers with migraine contacted three months after returning from Iraq had a mean of 5.3 headache days per month.

Eighteen percent of commissioned officers experienced migraine headaches over a year-long period. Of those, 50 percent experienced migraines during a five-week period of intensive military training.

They are likely to encounter numerous physiological and psychological factors that are known to precipitate migraine attacks and exacerbate migraine disorder.

The factors include disrupted sleep and meal patterns, fatigue, psychological stress, emotional strain, heat, noise and other environmental exposures.

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