Migraine Treatment and Public Safety Preparedness

February 21, 2013

If you aren’t a fan of flying, you have probably at least thought about some potential, albeit unlikely emergency scenarios.  A common fear among flying phobics is: What if something happens to the pilot?  Who can fly us to safety? Well, that’s just what happened recently to passengers on Lufthansa Flight LH403, when the pilot suffered a migraine attack.

The news story reported in the Daily Mail did not provide details as to whether the pilot had a history of chronic migraines or was receiving any ongoing migraine treatment.  This event raises some interesting concerns though for individuals who have jobs that require them to be responsible for the safety of others.

The flight from Newark to Frankfurt was diverted to Dublin and made an emergency landing with the help of a passenger who was an off-duty pilot himself. According to the Daily Mail report, the German national airline indicated that even if there wasn’t a backup pilot to step in when the copilot experienced his migraine attack, there were procedures in place that would have allowed the pilot with the help of other crew to land the plane safely.  Hopefully, this pilot’s migraine was not related to a chronic migraine condition.  If it was, this story is particularly unsettling for those of us who are planning to fly in the future.  Relying on passengers to be back-up pilots doesn’t seem like a prudent ‘migraine treatment.’

Pilots, train conductors and first responders all share the daunting responsibility for the safety of many people.  Individuals in these professions, who suffer with chronic migraines or other debilitating headache conditions, must be especially prepared with preventative and abortive migraine treatments for their condition.  While avoiding triggers may not be possible due to the unpredictable nature of these jobs, having effective migraine medication on hand is critical.  A long-lasting migraine procedure may offer an excellent choice for some individuals.  Of course, if a headache condition presents a threat to job safety and performance,  professionals in these vital positions of responsibility should consider serving in alternative roles that don’t put both the public and themselves in harm’s way.



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