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Center for Headache Medicine
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  • What is Migraine?

    A migraine is a recurring headache which is often one-sided.  They can be severe to the point of disability, but do not have to be to qualify as migraines. What makes migraines different than other headaches is they can cause other symptoms besides pain.

    For example, migraines can make sufferers tired, light and sound sensitive, nauseous, dizzy, confused, have trouble speaking and lose sensation or vision.  The most severe migraines will do some or all of these things at the same time, most commonly on a temporary basis, but if these symptoms last long enough they may become permanent or cause a stroke.

    A majority of migraines (60%) are one-sided, and 15% always get the migraine on the same side. Children tend to experience the headache on both sides and often are nauseous even without a headache. The main symptoms experienced by migraineurs have been reported as follows:


              85% of patients experience pulsing or throbbing                70% experience neck pain

              80% experience nausea                                                   45% have sinus/cold-like symptoms

              80% have sensitivity to light and noise                              30% experience vomiting

  • Who has Migraines?

    Migraine headache affects approximately 30-40 million Americans, although this figure may be higher as many patients do not know they have migraines or do not seek medical attention for their headaches.  Often, if they do visit their doctor, it is commonly misdiagnosed as a stress headache or sinus infection. (An interesting fact is that migraine headaches are 100 times more common than sinus headaches.)   The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates  there are 400-500 million people worldwide that suffer from migraines and it is one of the top 10 most common causes of years lived with disability (YLDs) for women.

  • Demographics

    Before puberty, boys often experience migraines more than girls. However, after 12 years of age, migraine afflicts women three times more often than men and women are 50 times more likely to need medical help for treating their headaches. Migraineurs are most commonly between the ages of 15 and 55, although the peak prevalence age is 20 to 45 years old for both sexes. About a third of migraineurs get their first migraine before the age of 5. About 10 million children in the United States get migraines, and 70% to 80% of sufferers have a family history of migraine. Migraine is also strongly associated with household income and in the United States, migraine prevalence is highest in Caucasians, followed by African Americans and Asian Americans.

  • Migraine Types

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