Battling migraines and severe headaches is a constant struggle. However, for Black migraine patients, disparities in the healthcare system add another layer of roadblocks.
Like most aspects of the healthcare system, racism plays a role in migraine care. A study concluded that Black men are far less likely to receive headache treatment and Black patients are 25% less likely to get a migraine diagnosis. This occurs regardless of the fact that white, Black, and Hispanic patients – around 15% – suffer from headaches and migraines. These might seem like just numbers, but disparities cause real impact for Black patients. Delays or refusal of diagnosis results in lack of treatment, causing more headaches over a period of time and usually more severe.
Although these statistics seem discouraging, patients can gain back agency through self-advocacy. While long-term change requires more macro cultural shifts, patients can influence their own healthcare journey on a microscale. The most important step in doing so is communicating effectively with your healthcare provider and clearly stating what you need.
One way you can start a conversation with your healthcare provider is by walking through your symptoms and triggers. Take notes of when you tend to get migraines. Do migraines typically occur at a certain time of the day or after eating certain foods? Keep a food diary for a few weeks – track what you eat and how you feel afterwards. If you notice that certain types of weather affect you, take note and discuss it with your doctor.