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35 Facts About Migraines You Need to Know

This fact sheet contains 35 key facts about migraines, aimed at helping sufferers better understand this condition. Note that this is for informational purposes and it’s essential to consult a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.

General Facts

  • Definition: A migraine is not just a headache, but a neurological disorder involving nerve pathways and chemicals in the brain.
  • Types: Migraines are categorized into two main types: migraine without aura and migraine with aura.
  • Prevalence: Migraines affect about 12% of the U.S. population, including children.
  • Gender: Women are three times more likely to experience migraines compared to men.
  • Childhood Onset: About 10% of school-age children suffer from migraines.


  • Food: Items like chocolate, caffeine, and cheese can be triggers.
  • Hormonal Changes: Menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause can exacerbate symptoms in women.
  • Weather: Changes in barometric pressure can trigger migraines in some people.
  • Stress: A common trigger, although relaxation after stress can also lead to migraines.
  • Sleep: Both lack of sleep and too much sleep can act as triggers.


  • Aura: A sensory warning sign like flashing lights, blind spots, or tingling.
  • Nausea: Commonly accompanies migraines and can lead to vomiting.
  • Light Sensitivity: Many sufferers are sensitive to light during an episode.
  • Sound Sensitivity: Noise can be unbearable during a migraine.
  • Olfactory Sensitivity: Strong smells like perfume can exacerbate symptoms.

Diagnosis and Treatment

  • No Definitive Test: Diagnosis often involves tracking symptoms and triggers.
  • Preventive Medications: Such as beta blockers, can help prevent migraines.
  • Abortive Treatments: Such as triptans, aim to stop the migraine once it starts.
  • Overuse: Taking medications too often can lead to medication-overuse headaches.
  • Specialists: A headache specialist or neurologist often provides the best care for migraine sufferers.

Coping Mechanisms

  • Dark Room: Resting in a dark, quiet room can help.
  • Cold or Warm Compress: Different temperatures work for different people.
  • Hydration: Staying hydrated can sometimes alleviate symptoms.
  • Caffeine: While a trigger for some, it can offer relief to others when taken in moderation.

Alternative Therapies

  • Acupuncture: Some find relief through this ancient Chinese practice.
  • Biofeedback: Teaches how to control physiological functions.
  • CBD Oil: Gaining popularity, but research is still inconclusive.
  • Magnesium Supplements: Consult a healthcare provider for appropriate dosage.

Latest Research

  • Genetics: Family history can play a significant role in your likelihood of experiencing migraines.
  • Serotonin: This neurotransmitter plays a key role in migraines.


  • Disability: Migraines are the 6th most disabling illness globally.
  • Cost: Billions are spent annually on healthcare services related to migraines.
  • Chronic vs. Episodic: Migraines are considered chronic when they occur 15 or more days a month.
  • Vestibular Migraines: These involve dizziness and issues with balance.
  • Retinal Migraines: Characterized by temporary vision loss or blindness in one eye.

Understanding these facts can provide a foundation for managing migraines effectively, although individual experiences and treatment plans will vary. Always consult a healthcare provider for tailored advice.

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