Headaches Pain And Misery
Go Far Beyond The Mind

(CNN) -- Young and old suffer from headaches. Doctors are now encouraging people to take their headaches seriously and get treatment. From changing lifestyle and diet to taking medications, there are things that can help alleviate the pain.
Adults who have addressed their headache have found they are more productive at work, while younger sufferers say ridding themselves of the pain helped them in school.
Headache costly to business
A recent study found headaches place not only a physical stress on those who have them, but a financial stress on employers.
Researchers at the Michigan Head Pain and Neurological Institute monitored the progress of headache patients undergoing regular treatments in an effort to estimate the cost to employers.
Marcia Hoeck was a headache sufferer. The migraine headaches she had were so debilitating, she says, they affected her performance as the owner of a marketing firm. "I lose my brainpower. I say, 'I feel stupid, I feel dumb,' and I can't afford to do that in a meeting," Hoeck says.
When she sought treatment, she became one of the test subjects in the study on the cost of headaches to employers.
The headache "is a very costly illness, with impacts for impairment and disability running up to $17 billion a year nationwide," Dr. Joel Saper said.
The cost to companies is due in large part to lost productivity and time. People's reluctance to seek help makes matters worse.
Researchers say if businesses want to dull the economic pain, treatment for headaches must be made more widely available, and employers must be more understanding of those who suffer from them.
Saper says the investment in headache treatment is a sound one and estimates each employee who seeks regular treatment can save employers an average of more than $5,000 a year.
Hoeck says the treatments she received, which involved drugs and biofeedback, have made a huge difference in her productivity.
"I'm much more likely to set up back-to-back meetings and full schedules than before," Hoeck said.
She says she is very sympathetic, as an employer and a headache sufferer, when one of her staff complains of a headache. She always encourages them to seek treatment.
Children suffer headaches, too
Headaches are not just an adult problem. More than a million children and adolescents suffer from headaches of their own.
Seventeen-year-old Caitlin Zaino has suffered from headaches since she was 8.
"Generally it was just like a pounding feeling ... a lot of pressure on my head and on my sinuses, and it hurt my eyes -- sometimes my teeth," Zaino says.
Her headaches were so bad, school became a problem.
"I remember I was in third grade, and I was missing a lot of school because I was always feeling sick," she says.
Dr. Irving Fish, director of pediatric neurology at New York University Medical Center in New York, says Zaino is not alone.
"About 85 percent of children by the time they're 17 have had headaches severe enough to mention them to their physician," Fish says. "From that, there's about 10 to 15 percent of children who have missed school."
For children and adolescents, the most common disabling headaches are migraines, with the same symptoms and triggers as the adult variety.
The second most common group is chronic headaches, usually brought on by stress.
The third and least common are headaches due to underlying causes in the brain, such as bleeding, infection or brain tumors.
Experts say there are telltale signs look for to know if a child's headaches are serious.
"If they're associated with other symptoms such as a sensitivity to light and noise, if they're associated with vomiting, if they leave a play group and come in and complain of headaches, that's a sign that something ought to be looked at," Fish says.
Fish says to treat headaches effectively you often need more than just a pill.
According to Fish what is needed is a "multidisciplinary approach, which includes a nurse-practitioner who addresses lifestyle issues, a social worker who addresses stress issues and strategies to deal with them, and a nutritionist who addresses nutritional triggers, especially in migraines."
In Zaino's case the headaches were stress-related. Since starting her treatment, Zaino says life has never been better. She is now looking forward to starting college in the fall.
"It's the first time since I can remember since I was a kid that I actually don't have headaches, that I've actually gone weeks feeling fine," Zaino says.
Detroit Bureau Chief Ed Garsten and Medical Correspondent Steve Salvatore contributed to this report.