Is Your Headache A Migraine?

Armen Hareyan's picture

Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman suffered silently for years, thinking that his migraines were just bad headaches that he had to tough out. Now he's teaming up with GlaxoSmithKline in a campaign to increase awareness among migraine sufferers, particularly men, that they don't have to go it alone.

It's a message that Aikman hopes to deliver to the estimated 29.5 million Americans -- including 7 million men -- who suffer from migraines.

And for at least one lucky prize winner, he plans to deliver it in person.

As an incentive for headache sufferers to learn more about migraine, everyone who visits, and takes a short assessment quiz becomes eligible to meet Aikman, or win other prizes. Answers to the quiz will help sufferers and their doctors determine if their headaches are actually migraines.

"The discussion with a doctor is crucial, and the questions at may help get it started," said Aikman, now a television sportscaster. "There are lots of migraine sufferers out there who aren't diagnosed -- just like I used to be. And if you aren't diagnosed properly, it's almost impossible to get an effective treatment plan."

In fact, almost half of the 29 million migraine sufferers are not diagnosed, and research shows that men are much less likely than women to talk to a doctor about their headaches. According to a survey of migraine patients, only 49 percent of male migraine sufferers had consulted a physician at some point for their migraines, compared to 73 percent of female sufferers. A Winning Game Plan

Understanding what a migraine headache really is, including recognizing some of the lesser-known symptoms, is key to finding effective migraine relief. At, visitors can:

-- Take the Headache Quiz, assess their symptoms, and evaluate how headaches impact their life

-- Get the facts about migraines -- and dispel the myths


-- Register to receive information about migraine-specific medicines

-- Enter the Football Fan's Dream Sweepstakes

Each week for 12 weeks, one person will win an Aikman-autographed football. In January, one lucky person will win the choice of one of two Grand Prize options: the opportunity to meet Aikman at Texas Stadium for lunch and a behind-the-scenes tour, or an Ultimate Football Entertainment Package, including a big-screen TV to watch the games in style.

Aikman said he hopes everyone who visits the website will be more prepared to talk about their symptoms with their doctor, which, he is quick to say, he personally took too long to do.

Even though Aikman's sister had been diagnosed with migraines, he didn't think his headaches warranted a trip to the doctor. When he began to travel more frequently for work, however, he noticed he would experience throbbing head pain and nausea after almost every flight. Finally, he decided it was enough. He asked his doctor about his symptoms and was diagnosed with migraines.

"Because I talked to my doctor," Aikman said, "he was able to diagnose me with migraines and prescribe Imitrex(R) (sumatriptan succinate) Tablets. Now I have a migraine-specific medicine that works for me. My advice to people who regularly get bad headaches is to learn more, explain their symptoms to a doctor, and get the right diagnosis and treatment."

About Migraines

Although headache pain is one of the most common symptoms of migraine, other associated symptoms include nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines can be difficult to diagnose. The debilitating pain of migraines, which can last from four to 72 hours if left untreated, often leads to lost time with family and friends.

About Imitrex (sumatriptan succinate) Tablets

If the diagnosis is migraine, then migraine-specific prescription therapies, like Imitrex, are available for the acute treatment of migraine attacks, with or without aura, in adults. Imitrex was the first prescription drug in a class of drugs called triptans to receive U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for the acute treatment of migraine in adults.

Patients should not take Imitrex if they have certain types of heart disease, history of stroke or TIAs, peripheral vascular disease, Raynaud syndrome, or blood pressure that is uncontrolled. Patients with risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or smoking, should be evaluated by a doctor before taking Imitrex. Very rarely, certain people, even some without heart disease, have had serious heart related problems. Patients who are pregnant, nursing, or taking medications should talk to their doctor.