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There is no condition of such magnitude - yet so shrouded in myth, misinformation, and mistreatment - as migraine.
— Joel R. Saper, MD, Chair, MRF Medical Advisory Board

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About Migraine
FAQ's
Migraine Facts

Migraine is an extraordinarily common disease that affects 36 million men, women and children in the United States. Almost everyone either knows someone who has suffered from migraine, or has struggled with migraine themselves.

  • Nearly 1 in 4 U.S. households includes someone with migraine.
  • Amazingly, over 10% of the population - including children - suffers from migraine. That's more than diabetes and asthma combined!
  • About 18% of American women and 6% of men suffer from migraine.
  • Migraine is most common during the peak productive years, between the ages of 25 and 55.
  • Migraine tends to run in families. If one parent suffers from migraine, there is a 40% chance a child will suffer. If both parents suffer, the chance rises to 90%.

Many people do not realize how serious and debilitating migraine can be. In addition to attack-related disability, migraine interferes with a sufferer's ability to function in everyday life, whether that is going to school or work, caring for family or enjoying social activities.

  • Migraine ranks in the top 20 of the world's most disabling medical illnesses.
  • Every 10 seconds, someone in the United States goes to the emergency room with a headache or migraine.
  • While most sufferers experience attacks once or twice a month, 14 million people or about 4% have chronic daily headache, when attacks occur at least 15 days per month.
  • More than 90% of sufferers are unable to work or function normally during their migraine.

Migraine is not just a bad headache.

  • Migraine is an extremely debilitating collection of neurological symptoms.
  • Migraine is a severe recurring intense throbbing pain on one side of the head, although in about 1/3 of attacks, both sides are affected.
  • Attacks  are often accompanied by one or more of the following: visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, extreme sensitivity to sound, light, touch and smell, and tingling or numbness in the extremities or face.
  • In 15-20% of attacks, other neurological symptoms occur before the actual head pain.
  • Attacks usually last between 4 and 72 hours.

For many sufferers, migraine is a chronic disease that significantly diminishes their quality of life.

  • About 14 million people experience chronic daily headache – when attacks occur at least 15 days per month.
  • For more than 90% of all sufferers, migraine interferes with their education, career and social activities.
  • Depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbances are common for those with chronic migraine.

Migraine is a public health issue with serious social and economic repercussions.

  • American employers lose more than $13 billion each year as a result of 113 million lost work days due to migraine.
  • Chronic illness – a category into which migraine can fall - is one of the country's biggest healthcare challenges, and costs an estimated $50 billion per year.
  • Migraine sufferers, like those who suffer from other chronic illnesses, face the consequences of high costs of medical services, too little support, and limited access to quality care.
  • People with migraine use about twice the medical resources –including prescription medications and office and emergency room visits– as non-sufferers.

Migraine remains a poorly understood disease that is frequently undiagnosed and undertreated.

  • Nearly half of all migraine sufferers are never diagnosed.
  • The majority of migraine sufferers do not seek medical care for their pain.
  • Only 4% of migraine sufferers who seek medical care consult headache and pain specialists.

Yet, in spite of the prevalence of migraine and its serious effect on individuals, families and society, research into the causes and treatment of migraine is severely under-funded.

  • At present, NIH funding for migraine research is $15 million - less than 0.03% of the annual NIH research budget.

Children also suffer from migraine.

  • The illness often goes undiagnosed in children.
  • About 10% of school-age children suffer from migraine.
  • Half of all migraine sufferers have their first attack before the age of 12. Migraine has even been reported in children as young as 18 months old.
  • Children who suffer are absent from school twice as often as children without migraine.
  • Before puberty, boys suffer from migraine more often than girls; as adolescence approaches, the incidence increases more rapidly in girls than in boys.

Migraine disproportionately affects women, with approximately 27 million female sufferers in the United States.

  • Three times as many women as men suffer from migraine in adulthood.
  • About half of affected women have more than one attack each month, and a quarter experience 4 or more severe attacks per month.
  • In childhood, boys are affected more than girls, but after adolescence, when estrogen influence begins in young girls, the risk of migraine and its severity rises in females.
  • More severe and more frequent attacks often result from fluctuations in estrogen levels.

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