6 Things You Should Know About Migraine

By Molly O’Brien, Association of Migraine Disorders

Migraine affects nearly every aspect of our lives. While the disease itself is complicated, your understanding of it doesn’t have to be! Whether you live with migraine or not, here are six things everyone should know about migraine. 

1. Migraine is more than just a “bad headache”

Migraine is a disabling disease that can impact all aspects of a person’s life. Often, migraine is thought of as a really bad headache. While a severe headache is a common symptom of migraine, it isn’t the only one. People who live with migraine have ‘migraine attacks’ where they can experience debilitating or severe symptoms that can include sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, vomiting, mood changes, digestive issues, problems with balance, dizziness, vision changes, and even trouble with thinking, talking, and concentrating.1

2. Migraine is very common 

Migraine affects roughly 1 in every 7 individuals, totaling approximately one billion people worldwide.2,3

Migraine disease is most prevalent in people aged 18 to 44.4 But kids get migraine too. In fact, migraine is the most common type of headache disorder in children, impacting around 11 percent of children.5

Most people have episodic migraine, but up to 2 percent have chronic migraine. People living with chronic migraine tend to have more frequent attacks, higher rates of disability and comorbidities.6,7

3. Migraine affects certain groups of people more than others

While migraine disease is common across the board, some people and communities have higher rates. 

Migraine disproportionately impacts: 

  • Women and people assigned female at birth. Migraine is 3 to 4 times more prevalent in women and people assigned female at birth than men and people assigned male at birth.8
  • Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). American Indians and Native Alaskans have the highest prevalence of migraine compared to other races/ethnicities.9
  • The LGBTQ+ community. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals are 58 percent more likely to have migraine than strictly heterosexual individuals.10,11

4. Migraine is a leading cause of disability

Migraine symptoms can be extremely debilitating and burdensome. It is the second leading cause of disability worldwide. 12

For women aged 15-49, migraine is the leading cause of disability. 12

5. Migraine has an enormous economic cost

Because migraine can be so disabling, it has a huge economic cost. American employers lose an estimated $19.3 billion per year because of missed workdays.13 This estimate does not include days worked with reduced productivity due to migraine attacks or symptoms.

Managing migraine is expensive too. One study found that in the US, healthcare costs associated with migraine were over $6,000 more per person than in people without migraine.14

6. People with migraine face barriers when trying to access care

People living with migraine often face many obstacles when trying to access quality care. Finding a knowledgeable provider can be difficult because, in most medical training around the world, only about four hours is spent on all headache disorders.15

And specialists or experts in migraine and headache are hard to find. As of 2022, there were less than 750 certified headache specialists in the U.S.16 

Additionally, approvals for many migraine treatments, especially the newer options specifically designed to treat the disease (which tend to have the highest efficacy), can be hard to come by.

Resources

  1. https://ichd-3.org/1-migraine/1-1-migraine-without-aura/ 
  2. https://journals.lww.com/pain/Abstract/2022/02000/Global,_regional,_and_national_burden_of_migraine.28.aspx 
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8904749/#:~:text=The%20global%20age%2Dstandardized%20prevalence,per%20100%2C000%20population%20(7).
  4. https://headachejournal.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/head.13281
  5. https://thejournalofheadacheandpain.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s10194-023-01541-0
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31563224/ 
  7. https://ichd-3.org/1-migraine/1-3-chronic-migraine/ 
  8. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fneur.2020.549038/full
  9. https://headachejournal.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/head.13281 
  10. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaneurology/fullarticle/2771029
  11. http://austinregionalclinic.staywellsolutionsonline.com/RelatedItems/6,761658 
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7708887/
  13. https://www.ajmc.com/view/estimating-the-economic-burden-of-migraine-on-us-employers
  14. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29446063/
  15. https://bmcmededuc.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12909-022-03299-6#:~:text=Typically%2C%20worldwide%2C%20only%20four%20hours,postgraduate%20neurology%20specialization%20%5B6%5D.
  16. https://www.ucns.org/Online/Online/Default.aspx

 1 in 7 people live with migraine disease. That means nearly everyone knows someone living with migraine. Please join us in raising awareness and showing your support! Participation is easy, post a photo wearing sunglasses to social media on June 21st with #ShadesForMigraine.

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