About Migraine

What is Migraine?iStock_000036014378Large

Migraine – Who does it Affect?

The Burden of Migraine

Current Migraine Treatments are Inadequate


What is Migraine?

Migraine is an inherited neurological disorder that is characterized by over excitability of specific areas of the brain. Although we do not clearly understand how a migraine brain is different or what happens in the brain to start a migraine, we know that individuals with migraine are more susceptible to the influence of transient factors, termed “triggers” that raise the risk for having a migraine attack. These triggers include hormonal fluctuations; environmental stimuli like weather or bright lights, certain smells, alcohol, certain foods, poor sleep, and high stress. However, not everyone has a clear trigger for their migraine attacks.

How do you know you might have migraine

Yes No Identifiable characteristics that help diagnose migraine. If you have two or more of these features, you may want to talk to your doctor about your headaches.
Headache that is moderately or severely painful
Headache pain gets worse with physical activity
A headache that is throbbing, which often is worse on one side
A headache that causes you to miss work or other activities
Increased sensitivity to light, sound or smells during a headache
A long lasting headache (4-48 hours if untreated)


Migraine – Who does it Affect?

  • Thirty-six million Americans, about 12% of the population, suffer from migraine headaches.
  • One in four households in America has a member with migraine.
  • Migraine is 3 times more common in women than men. Migraine affects 30% of women over a lifetime.
  • Although most people with migraine have a few attacks or less per month, 3% of the population have chronic migraine. Chronic migraine indicates the presence of at least 15 days of headache each month for at least 6 months.

The Burden of Migraine

  • Migraine costs the United States more than $20 billion each year. Costs are attributed to direct medical expenses (e.g. doctor visits, medications) and indirect expenses (e.g. missed work, lost productivity).
  • Migraine is disabling. The World Health Organization places migraine as one of the 20 most disabling medical illnesses on the planet.
  • Chronic migraine is even more disabling.
  • Those with migraine are more likely to have depression, anxiety, sleep disorders, other pain conditions, and fatigue.
  • People who have a history of experiencing an aura phase have been shown to be at an increased risk for stroke and heart attack.

Current Migraine Treatments are Inadequate

  • There is no cure for migraine. Treatments are aimed at reducing headache frequency and stopping individual headaches when they occur.

  • Prophylactic treatments (to reduce headache frequency) may include avoidance of migraine triggers, medications, physical therapies and behavioral therapies.

  • Abortive treatments (taken when a patient has a headache) include over-the-counter pain relievers and prescription medications.

  • Although prophylactic and abortive treatments help many people with migraine, they are far from perfect. Undoubtedly, better treatments are needed.

  • Prophylactic medications reduce headache frequency by 1/2 in only about 40% of patients who take these medications.

  • Medication side effects often limit the use of migraine medications. 

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