Headaches a leading cause of absenteeism

In a developing economy such as South Africa a healthy work force is vital for future growth. It is therefore not only necessary, but vital to identify causes of absenteeism amongst working-age adults. A study found that not only are migraine and tension-type headaches among the most common causes of lost work time, but the prevalence is around the age of 40 – a time when individuals are at the peak of their work abilities.

 The study was published in Occupational Neurology and examined the substantial impact of headaches on individual work productivity. Furthermore, it found that it also places a burden on the employers and society in terms of medical costs. The research also indicates a difference in demographics which is also reflected in absenteeism: Approximately 18% of females and 6% of males in the general population suffer from migraines.

 Dr Elliot Shevel, South Africa’s pioneer in the field of migraine surgery and the medical director of The Headache Clinic, says that chronic daily headaches (which mean 15 or more headache days per month) and migraine are the third leading of disability worldwide. These conditions are a leading cause for absenteeism and it represents a widely accepted stage of pain progression that occurs in 2-4% of the population.

The burden of letting headaches go untreated results in societal costs from underemployment and unemployment among those of working age who are sufferers.

 “Treatment of headaches can be acute or preventive. The goals of acute treatment are timely alleviation of pain and associated symptoms and restoring the sufferer’s ability to function. This provides the best cost-effective management which will in turn lead to better individual productivity,” he says.

 “Migraine preventative treatment without the use of medication is used to decrease future attack frequency, severity and duration, improving the response to acute treatment, and improving the overall function of the patient.”

Shevel recommends sufferers should seek professional help when headaches or migraines start to interfere with their functioning at work. “We have a multidisciplinary team who can apply acute and preventive treatment.” Contact us on 011 484 0933 or visit our website at www.theheadacheclinic.net to find out more.