Study results on migraines heighten public awareness

Under the Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance program, commonly known as Social Security, disabled individuals can obtain monetary benefits if their disability prevents them from working and earning a living. The definition of social security disability, however, is far-reaching and complex. Typically, a disability is defined as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits an individual's life.

One type of disability, commonly overlooked and unsuspected by many is a migraine. The results of a recent study may help increase public awareness about the condition.

Understanding migraines

A migraine is classified as a brain disorder commonly linked to severe headaches that can last up to 72 hours. However, individuals with migraines can experience other serious symptoms as well (with or without headaches) including nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light, sound or touch.

Experts have yet to pinpoint the exact cause of migraines, but the condition has been linked to psychological conditions such as depression and anxiety. Stress, hunger and fatigue and menstruation are all known to possibly trigger the onset of a migraine.

However, the results of a new study conducted by Robert Shapiro, a neurology professor and headache specialist at the University of Vermont, show that genetic factors may be a huge cause of migraines.

The study

In the study, Shapiro looked at the medical history of a Vermont family who all suffered from migraines. He and his researchers discovered that the family members had a particular gene mutation that they believe was causing the migraines. During the study, the particular gene mutation was implanted into mice that showed signs of migraines-just like within the Vermont family.

In previous years, certain other genes were connected by European researchers, but not the one in Shapiro's study.

Awareness about debilitating migraines

According to Shapiro, increase public awareness about migraines and how they really affect an individual's ability to live and go to work is vital. "Searching for genes is potentially a very productive angle to understanding what causes this brain state and therefore what might lead to potential therapies," he said.

Up to 60 million Americans suffer from migraines that have "enormous disability consequences" he says. He hopes someday the gene discovery leads to potential prevention but admits that may be far into the future.

Consulting with a disability lawyer

If you are experiencing debilitating migraines or have questions about disability qualification, consulting with an experienced Social Security attorney is advised. You may be entitled to compensation under the Social Security program.