Background: About Migraine
Millions of American adults and children suffer from migraine. In fact, the World Health Organization ranked migraine as one of the ten most disabling illnesses and the third most common medical disorder on the planet. A disproportionate number of women in the U.S. (18%) suffer from migraine as compared to just 6% of men. The condition, which tends to run in families, also has a strong yet poorly understood genetic component.
Migraine is a medical condition that is misunderstood by many. There is a general lack of awareness about the seriousness of migraine and a stigma around the condition that is no doubt tied to this lack of awareness. Common myths include the mistaken belief that people with migraine are lazy, exaggerating their symptoms and/or are simply unable to cope. As a result, many migraineurs hide their condition – especially from their employer and co-workers.
Although often thought of as a bad headache and not a “real” disease, migraine is a complex, disabling, recurring neurological disorder.
Migraine is characterized by throbbing or pulsing pain starting on one side of the head and often accompanied by a variety of symptoms including nausea, vomiting, dizziness, extreme sensitivity to light, sound and touch. There is a wide spectrum when it comes to duration of migraines and impact on daily functioning. Some last for hours and others for days. According to the International Headache Society, those who have 14 or fewer migraine days per month have episodic migraines, while those with chronic migraines have 15 or more migraines per month over the course of three months.
Attacks can be caused by a number of factors, known as triggers, including hormonal changes, stress/anxiety, food choices, the environment and other medical conditions. Learn more about what causes migraine.