The Cost of Migraines

What is the true cost of migraines? Mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, financially ... what did I miss?

The Migraine Research Foundation tells us the cost of having migraines is "Healthcare and lost productivity costs associated with migraine are estimated to be as high as $36 billion annually in the U.S."

That's just the United States statistics. 

The Cost of Migraines

So far I have estimated that my own personal cost of migraines has been over $288,269.70 Australian dollars. I just spent $269.70 today on supplements. And that's just an estimate.

I assume they will continue to cost me as long as I continue to have them. And it will increase should I continue to experiment with new alternatives. As I do!

That's almost the price of a house.

I just went to the doctor and it cost $210 for half an hour. I had 8 questions left over from the last appointment ($170) and after twenty minutes she said she felt overwhelmed and had to stop.

But the fact is … that this illness is overwhelming to me. Health stuff gets me into my emotional mind and out of my logical mind. Even after twenty years of going to doctors for migraines and CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome), some of it all still sounds like they are speaking Klingon. 

I think it’s because there are new things to try, and then some new things don’t work. And then ten years later a doctor or specialist suggests the same thing and I am supposed to remember if and when I already tried that supplement or medication and the results.

Well I don’t know about you, but I just can’t recall that far back.

So it is really important to keep good records. A lot can be saved on computer now and we can use apps to keep track of our current symptoms and triggers, frequency, severity, and medications.

Click here for the paper version of the medication tracker I use.

Calculating The Cost of Migraines

How does one calculate the actual cost of migraines?

In dollars ...

Let me share some of my very own financial statistics with you in the hopes you won’t make the same mistakes as I did, long term. 

Or at least give you some food for thought about how things can add up.

Sadly, and substantially. 

They say you never forget your first migraine. I still remember mine.

I was throwing up at work within half an hour of eating a chocolate bar.

I've never eaten a Kit Kat again! Why did I go there? Lost wages!

Ok - so here are my figures roughly:

2016 – 1992 = 24 years of migraine

20 days each month x 12 = 240 days of migraine each year 24 years – 5,760 migraine days

$1,000 per month as per my records (was a bookkeeper after all) – $12,000 per year x 24 = $288,000

Plus today's supplements:

Cost $288,269.70 to date

And that's not calculating lost income over the past sixteen years! I can't guess at that. Plus, it's just too depressing.

According to the Migraine Research Foundation, migraines still "remain a poorly understood disease that is often undiagnosed and under-treated.

  • In 2015, there were about 500 certified headache specialists in the U.S. and 38 million sufferers.
  • More than half of all migraine sufferers are never diagnosed.
  • The vast majority of migraine sufferers do not seek medical care for their pain.
  • Only 4% of migraine sufferers who seek medical care consult headache and pain specialists.
  • Although 25% of sufferers would benefit from preventive treatment, only 12% of all sufferers receive it."

How Do We Measure The True Cost?

Are half a billion people really putting up with migraine pain and long disruptive migraine episodes?

Are we all just suffering in silence? Or putting up with the pain because it's just what we are used to? 

After all it's just a headache .... right? Or they must be really mild migraines. Because my migraines ... destroy everything in their path. And what's the cost of that?

I am finding many answers regarding the cost of migraines watching the summit and the interviews.

The Migraine World Summit team presented some interesting migraine facts, some of which I find truly shocking:

  • Migraines are more common than diabetes, epilepsy, and asthma combined (1).
  • One in seven people suffer from migraines … that’s one billion globally (2).
  • Less than half those with migraine consult a physician for it (3).
  • For those who do seek help, finding the right doctor can be difficult. Just 4 hours are committed to headaches disorders in undergraduate medical training worldwide (4).
  • The US is one of the few places where there are subspecialty certifications for headache medicine, yet there is only 1 headache specialist for every 85,000 patients (5). This shortage is consistent in most countries.
  • The estimated annual cost of migraine in the US alone is over $17 billion (6).

You need to be informed to make good treatment choices. Or it will cost you, in many unseen ways.

How Saving $10 Day Looks In 20 Years

I think about where I can save money all the time. I cut the bottom off cleanser, shampoo, conditioner, sunscreen, makeup and hand cream bottles (anything plastic really) to get the last bits out.

There can sometimes be more than ten applications left inside the bottle.

Check this out - can't remember what book I read or what I was watching but I just wanted to go and test out what they were saying:

Let this inspire you to rethink some of your daily (wasteful) habits and to start saving money. I know you might not have $10 a day to save, but even just saving a little each week adds up.

AND it starts the energy flowing into "paying yourself first" and into your bank account. Energy flowing in, and mentally shifting to flowing in, is all good to combat the accumulating cost of migraines. 

Other Ways to Save

I just checked with three different compounding pharmacies for my chelated magnesium (recommended on the Migraine Summit) and there was an $80 difference!

It pays to do some research first, and then you can keep checking as you go. It does cost time, but I'd rather that than money!

Oh, ask your pharmacist which migraine medications are covered by Medicare (PBS here) or which ones are cheaper. S/he will probably know more than your doctor. Try them first!

I have one client that cuts her Naramig in half and it works for her. The Maxalt she was on was $28 per tablet. And she was getting too much breakthrough pain, so bravely she tried another triptan.

The Naramig is under PBS - $6.10 for 4 tablets (currently). 

When I get put on a new supplement at the doctor's office, I always come home and check iherb first. Some things are as much as half price. If the supplement is not there, I contact the manufacturer or look for a stockist online. 

It always works out to be cheaper. And once you source it, you've got it. Remembering this is a lifelong condition :-( and the expenses will go on.

Some people I know water down their soap and shampoo. I personally don't like to do that. But it does work just as effectively.

Other little things like, I make sure my black printer ink is recycled and on saver mode. I take off the colour ink. I cook lots of stews and casseroles to make food last longer.

Little things add up.

What do you do to keep the cost of migraines down? Let me know by clicking in the white box below.

How I Save Money

What are some of the things you do to save money?

Do you do any of those things I mentioned above?

Info Links To Save Time and Money

These are some great links to know about, so check them out:

Just because there is no cure, doesn't mean we can't be healthy, happy and rich! 

› The Cost of Migraines

Cost of Migraines Resources:

1. The Migraine Research Foundation - Migraine Facts. Accessed online 05/05/16.

2. The - about. Accessed online 05/05/16.

Literature Cited at Migraine World Summit:

1) Steiner TJ et al. The prevalence and disability burden of adult migraine in England and their relationships to age, gender and ethnicity. Cephalalgia. 2003;23(7):519-527.

2) Steiner TJ et al. Migraine: the seventh disabler. The Journal of Headache and Pain 2013, 14:1.

3) Pavone E et al. Patterns of triptans use: a study based on the records of a community pharmaceutical department. Cephalalgia. 2007;27(9):1000-4.

4) World Health Organization. Atlas of headache disorders and resources in the world 2011.

5) Mauser, Emily D., and Noah L. Rosen. “So many migraines, so few subspecialists: Analysis of the geographic location of United Council for Neurologic Subspecialties (UCNS) certified headache subspecialists compared to United States headache demographics.” Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain 54.8 (2014): 1347-1357.

6) Goldberg, Lawrence D. “The cost of migraine and its treatment.” The American journal of managed care 11.2 Suppl (2005): S62-67.

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With this new information, what one thing can you do now to reduce your attacks?