1% Thursday: Get to know the ICHD-II

The International Classification of Headache Disorders (ICHD-II) from the International Headache Society is an attempt to standardize the way we talk about various headache disorders.

Look at it this way – it’s a way for people all around the world to speak the "same language".

For example, let’s say I find a great treatment for retinal migraine.  I want to share it with the world, so I tell everyone,"Eat jelly doughnuts!  They’ll cure you of retinal migraine!"

Unfortunately, some people speak a different language.  What I call migraine without aura they call retinal migraine.  So everyone starts eating jelly doughnuts for migraine without aura, but it doesn’t help – it makes things worse.

We need a common language, so we can share treatments, understand diagnosis, talk about symptoms.  Of course researchers can question these classifications – but they can’t discuss them intelligently unless they have a common base to work from.

When it comes to research, the ICHD II also helps us have clear, consistent, valuable results.  Sadly, a recent study of the past few years found that studies only had about 64% compliance with the ICHD II standards.  That makes the studies confusing at best and useless at worst.

So this week I challenge you to at least start to understand the International Classification of Headache Disorders (ICHD-II).  Have your doctor show you which type of headache or migraine you have, and understand why you have that and nothing else.

This will:

  • Help promote the use of this tool worldwide
  • Help you understand your type of headache or migraine
  • Enable you to better discuss symptoms and treatments with others
  • Help you find people who really do have the same type of headache as you
  • It may help you discover that you have something different than what you thought, or perhaps more than one type of headache.  Check the guide then talk to your doctor!

Start now.  For the online version, see the International Classification of Headache Disorders II website.  Currently, you can directly download the whole guide.  Right click this link and download it to your desktop (pdf, 780KB)

What is 1% Thursday?

1% Thursday

Every Thursday at Headache and Migraine News (weather permitting) we’ll talk about one measurable, practical thing we can do to make our lives just 1% better.  Usually it will be something very easy, sometimes it will be a challenge.  Let us know if you try it, or share an idea of your own – and maybe a year from now we’ll see that things have really changed for the better!

Be Sociable, Share!
1 comment… add one
  • Teri Robert Oct 14, 2010


    Great post! It would be so much easier if everyone used the ICHD-II.


Leave a Comment