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How Do You Know If You Have a Migraine?

Each year, approximately 90% of the U.S. population will experience at least one headache and 13% will experience migraine. Of the 29.5 million migraine sufferers in the U.S., only 15-30% will seek medical attention.

Migraine is a serious condition that impacts our society. Each year, it is estimated that time lost from work due to headache costs the nation up to $17 billion dollars in absenteeism, lost productivity and medical expenses. Though migraine is more prevalent among women (18% of the population), the disorder affects men as well (6% of the population). Most sufferers have a family history of migraine.

Many factors trigger migraine such as stress, environmental factors, depression, or certain medication.

According to the NHF, migraine characteristics include:

  • Pain typically on one side of the head
  • Pain has a pulsating or throbbing quality
  • Moderate to intense pain affecting daily activities
  • Attacks last four to 72 hours, sometimes longer
  • Exertion such as climbing stairs makes headache worse

And is associated with at least one of the following:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light or sound

Sufferers should be aware that migraine attacks come in four phases: the prodrome, the aura, the headache, and the postdrome. The prodrome occurs hours or days before the attack and the migraneur experiences sensitivity to light and sounds, mood changes, loss of appetite or certain cravings, fatigue, or constipation or diarrhea. About 20% of sufferers will then experience aura. Those with aura will endure visual disturbances such as wavy lines, dots, or flashing lights about 20 minutes to an hour before head pain. Some people will also experience tingling in their arms or face or difficulty speaking. The head pain will last anywhere from several hours to several days and is associated with the above symptoms. Finally, during the postdrome, or period after the headache, the sufferer may feel listless, weak, irritable, and/or fatigued.

There are many recognized prevention and treatment methods for migraine. Explore our website to understand how to relieve your head pain.

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