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How Do You Know If You Are Experiencing A Migraine Attack?

Each year, approximately 90% of the U.S. population will experience at least one headache and 13% will experience migraine attacks. Of the 40 million people living with migraine disease in the U.S., only 15-30% will seek medical attention.

Migraine is a serious condition that impacts our society. Annually, it is estimated that time lost from work due to migraine disease and headache disorders costs the nation up to $19.3 billion dollars in absenteeism, lost productivity, and medical expenses. Though migraine disease is more prevalent among women (18% of the population), the disorder affects men as well (6% of the population). Most people living with migraine disease have a family history of migraine.

Many factors trigger migraine attacks 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 head pain worse

And is associated with at least one of the following:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light or sound

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 some may experience sensitivity to light and sounds, mood changes, loss of appetite or certain cravings, fatigue, or constipation, or diarrhea. About 20% of people 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 have 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 migraine attack, some individuals may feel listless, weak, irritable, and/or fatigued.

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

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