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SingleCare Quotes Dr. Williams: Migraine statistics 2022


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Migraines are a common type of headache that can cause intense, pulsating pain. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, migraines affect more than 39 million Americans and women are three times more likely to get migraines than men. With such a large number of people affected, it is not surprising that migraines can have a big impact on overall health and well-being.

Migraines can be debilitating, making it difficult to work, enjoy hobbies, or even take care of basic self-care. While it’s challenging to live with any kind of head pain, there are treatments available that can help. Keep reading to learn more about migraine statistics, including how common they are, who gets them, and what treatments are available.

What is a migraine?

“A migraine is clinically defined as a specific type of headache that is felt more intensely, and usually has accompanying symptoms in addition to the pain felt in the head,” says Vernon Williams, MD, a board-certified neurologist, pain management specialist, and founding director of the Center for Sports Neurology and Pain Medicine at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles.

“The pain from a migraine can be very severe, and interfere with activities of daily life. Like headaches, migraines can be brief, lasting only a few hours, or the pain can stick around for several days.”

This type of headache is usually diagnosed based on the symptoms a person experiences. To confirm the diagnosis, your healthcare provider may ask about family history and perform a physical exam. They may also order imaging tests to rule out other health problems that may cause similar symptoms.

In some cases, a healthcare professional may ask you to keep a log of all your migraine symptoms or suggest a consultation with a neurologist or headache specialist who has experience in the treatment of migraines.

How common are headache disorders

Migraine statistics worldwide

U.S. migraine statistics

Migraine statistics by age

Migraine statistics by sex

Migraine statistics by race and ethnicity

  • In the United States, migraines affect as many as 1.5 million African American men. (The Journal of Head and Face Pain)
  • Only 14% of African American headache patients receive prescriptions for acute migraine medications, compared to 37% of white headache patients. (American Migraine Foundation, 2021)
  • American Indians and Alaska Natives are more likely to experience migraines or severe headaches, according to a 2018 study. (Headache, 2018)

Chronic migraine statistics

Migraine and overall health

Migraines can be debilitating and have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. You may not be able to perform everyday activities or go to work or school. In severe cases, you may need to go to the emergency room. Because of this, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis and treatment plan to help lessen the frequency and severity of your migraines.

  • Those with certain conditions such as asthma, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, and epilepsy are more likely to experience migraines. (Frontiers in Neurology, 2010)
  • Headaches are one of the most common reasons for seeking emergency medical care. (American Migraine Foundation, 2017)
  • Around 3% of emergency room visits are related to migraines each year, according to a 2018 study. (Headache, 2018)
  • A study of 4,325 patients who were admitted for prolonged hospital stays related to a migraine attack showed that migraines had a significant link to several medical conditions, including mood disorders, chronic renal failure, opioid abuse, and congestive heart failure. (The Neurohospitalist, 2016)
  • While migraines don’t commonly cause death, migraine with aura has been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular mortality. (The Journal of Headache and Pain, 2020)

The cost of migraine

  • Direct medical costs and lost productivity costs the United States more than $20 million annually. (American Migraine Foundation, 2019)
  • In 2013, the National Institute of Health (NIH) spent an estimated $13 million on headache research annually. (Headache, 2013)
  • Patients experiencing migraines in 2014 spent an extra $8,924 per year on direct and indirect costs, on average, when compared to other individuals living in similar regions. (The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 2018)

Causes of migraine

“Headaches and migraines are caused when the blood vessels, muscles, and nerves in the head are overstimulated,” explains Dr. Williams. “When these pain-sensitive structures become overactive, or when chemical activity in the brain is altered, we feel the uncomfortable sensations of a headache.”

There are several known causes of migraines, as well as some possible triggers. That said, there’s still much to learn about migraine epidemiology. Some people may have a genetic predisposition to the condition, while others may develop them due to psychological or environmental factors.

According to 2021 research published in Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, an estimated 34 to 64 percent of people with migraines have a family history of the condition. Inherited genetic mutations of CACNA1A, ATP1A2, and SCN1A have shown a link to an increased risk for migraines, with many other genetic mutations still under investigation.

Research on environmental factors that may contribute to migraines is limited, but some studies suggest a link between certain chemicals, like MSG (monosodium glutamate), aspartame, and nitrites.According to the National Headache Foundation, other possible environmental factors include weather, lighting, noise, poor air quality, and exposure to certain odors and chemicals.

Dr. Williams notes the most common migraine triggers include:

  • Stress
  • Sensory stimuli (bright lights, loud noises)
  • Changes in sleep or lack of sleep
  • Being hungry or skipping meals
  • Caffeine withdrawal or too much caffeine
  • Certain foods, including chocolate, alcohol, MSG, aged cheeses, processed meats, and aspartame
  • Rigorous physical activity
  • Hormonal changes in women

Migraine prevention

For some, making lifestyle changes may help prevent migraines. Dr. Williams explains that the following changes may help reduce the frequency or severity of migraine attacks:

  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
  • Don’t skip meals
  • Aim to get about the same number of hours of sleep every night (between seven and nine)
  • Don’t go overboard on caffeine or alcohol
  • Engage in moderate daily physical activity
  • Practice coping mechanisms, like mindfulness, when stress levels are high

There are also several medications that can be taken on a regular basis to help prevent migraines from occurring. These prophylactic medications include beta blockers, calcium channel blockers, antidepressants, and anti-seizure medications. The following medications may be prescribed as preventive treatment:

The government has also put forth initiatives to help raise awareness about migraines and their impact on public health. In June of 2011, the first-everNational Migraine and Headache Awareness Month took place, which aimed to help increase understanding and awareness of the condition. Since then, the awareness month has continued to take place annually in June.

There are also a number of organizations dedicated to helping those with migraines, such as:

  • The American Migraine Foundation
  • The National Headache Foundation
  • Migraine Research Foundation
  • The American Headache Society
  • The Association of Migraine Disorders

Treating migraine

Migraine treatment can be complex, and it may take several tries to find what works best for you. Medications used to treat migraines can be divided into two main categories: those meant for acute treatment of migraines and those meant for prophylactic or preventative treatment.

Acute migraine medications include over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), as well as prescription options like triptans. Triptans, such as Imitrex, Frova, Maxalt, Zomig, Axert, and Relpax, make up a class of medications that work by narrowing blood vessels and blocking pain pathways in the brain. However, be aware of medication overuse headaches and ask a healthcare professional about the best way to take these pain relievers for migraine or cluster headaches.

In addition to medication, there are a number of other possible treatments for migraines, such as:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Biofeedback
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic care
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Exercise
  • Massage
  • Dietary changes

Additionally, there are several ongoing clinical trials testing new migraine treatments, such as monoclonal antibodies, calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) inhibitors, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), and many more. While trials take years to complete, the hope is that these and other new treatments will provide much-needed relief for those suffering from migraines.

While there is no cure for migraines, there are a number of ways to help manage the condition and lessen the frequency and severity of attacks. With proper treatment, many people are able to find significant relief from their migraines.

Migraine questions and answers

How common is migraine in the world?

Migraines affect 1 in 7 people globally, as reported by the American Migraine Foundation.

Which country has the highest rate of migraine?

Research published in The Lancet suggests that Italy and Nepal had the highest rate of migraine in the world in 2016, with the lowest rates occurring in China.

What percentage of the U.S. population has migraines?

According to the Migraine Institute, 43% of U.S. women and 18% of men will experience migraines at some point in their life.

Are migraines genetic?

Research shows there is a genetic component to migraines, but it is not fully understood. According to the Journal of Headache and Pain, as many as 60% of people with migraines have a family history of the condition.

Can migraine be cured?

Unfortunately, there’s no cure for migraines at this time. However, there are several treatment options available that can help lessen the frequency and severity of attacks. Lifestyle changes, prophylactic medications, and acute migraine medications can all be used to help manage migraines.

Migraine research