Headaches can be more complicated than most people realize. Recent migraine statistics show that there are over 150 different forms of headaches. However, for the purposes of this post, we will focus all attention on one type of headache, i.e., migraines.
Migraine is a global challenge that affects 1 billion people worldwide. That explains why we need institutions like American Migraine Foundation, which is a governmental organization focused on helping us tackle migraine illness prevalence worldwide.
To help provide a clear understanding of this menacing situation to the general public and especially those suffering from migraines, we compiled some of the most important migraine stats into one article. Let’s take a look.
Top 10 Migraine Facts and Statistics
- 24% of migraine sufferers report severe headaches requiring urgent medical attention.
- If both parents have a migraine, there is a 75% chance their children will have it.
- Migraine affects 1 billion people worldwide.
- About 4% of boys and girls are affected by migraine before reaching puberty.
- Migraine is undertreated and undiagnosed in at least 50% of patients.
- More than 90% of migraine patients are unable to function normally during attacks.
- 13% of the US population is suffering from migraines.
- In 2017, NIH funding for migraine relief was about $0.50 per sufferer.
- It is estimated that US industries lose $31 billion per year due to migraine attacks.
- 70% of all people living with migraines are women.
General Migraine Statistics
1. You can identify migraines by the associated pain and the number of attacks.
Migraine is a type of headache with some distinguishing features. Aside from throbbing pain on one side of the head and a minimum of 5 attacks, which can last anywhere between 4–72 hours if left unattended, other migraine symptoms include sensitivity to noise, smell, and light; loss of appetite; stomach upset or belly pain; and nausea or vomiting
2. Migraine occurs in episodes.
(Medical News Today)
A migraine episode is an attack that comes with severe pain and in stages that may last for days. Migraine episodes can prevent you from carrying out your daily activities effectively.
What’s more, anyone suffering from a more severe migraine can have episodes that may last for hours, days, weeks, or even months. However, statistics on symptoms of migraine headaches show that it is most common amongst those aged 18 to 44 years.
3. Migraines can be differentiated by observing the sensory changes that accompany each attack.
(Medical News Today, Migraine Trust)
Migraine attacks can either come with a sensory change or aura during an episode’s early stages or without any symptoms of this kind. Sensory changes occurring before an episode can serve as a warning to an imminent migraine headache for a patient.
There are several migraine types such as chronic migraine, menstrual migraine, hemiplegic migraine, abdominal migraine, vestibular migraine, and basilar migraine. However, recent reports show that 70%–90% of these migraines occur without any sensory change or warning.
4. 24% of migraine sufferers globally report having severe headaches that require urgent medical attention.
Fact sheets on symptoms of migraine headaches show that any migraine symptom that continues beyond 72 hours may require you to see a doctor—especially those that come with severe headaches, seizures, fever, etc.
5. If both parents have a migraine, there is a 75% chance their children will have it.
Although the main cause of migraine and other forms of headaches is yet to be understood, research shows that genetics plays a huge role in determining who is likely to experience migraines during their lifetime.
According to CDC migraine statistics for 2019, 90% of those suffering from migraines have family members with the same illness. There is also a 50% chance that when one parent suffers from a migraine illness, the child will develop a migraine as well.
6. Migraine is ranked globally as the seventh most disabling disease.
Migraine headache facts show that migraine is also the leading cause of disability amongst all neurological disorders and is responsible for 2.9% of the total years of life lost due to disability.
7. Migraine affects 1 billion people worldwide.
(Migraine Research Foundation, Migraine Trust)
According to migraine statistics for 2020, that is about 14.7% of the global population or approximately 1 in every 7 people. Migraine is an extraordinarily prevalent disease, made even worse by the fact that its cure and causes have not been ascertained.
On the other hand, chronic migraine affects approximately 2% of the world’s population, according to global chronic migraine prevalence statistics.
8. Migraine is the third most common disease in the world.
(Migraine Trust, TIND)
There are over 150 forms of headaches, all of which can be triggered by various stimulants like stress, diet, etc. Migraine has a higher degree of prevalence than diabetes, asthma, and epilepsy combined, as revealed by headache statistics for 2020.
According to reports, over 75% of migraine sufferers experience at least one form of migraine attack each month.
9. More than 90% of migraine patients are unable to function normally during episode attacks.
(Migraine Research Foundation)
Migraine attacks can last for hours, days, or even weeks, depending on the type of migraine headache. Regardless, there is always some pain associated with each attack, most of which can interfere with your daily activities.
10. Globally, migraine only gets a total of 4 hours of formal undergraduate medical education.
According to migraine facts and figures, there isn’t much time allocated to studying migraines in the institutions of higher education. In fact, 75% of England’s undergraduate medical schools do not even address migraines in their curriculum. This figure, however, spikes up to 10 hours in specialist training.
11. Depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbances are common for those experiencing chronic migraines.
(Migraine Research Foundation, WebMD)
This form of migraine can linger for hours or weeks with continuous episodes or attacks. Getting excess or insufficient sleep can cause chronic migraines, as revealed by migraine statistics worldwide. Anxiety and stress are also possible triggers of chronic migraines.
12. Over 20% of people suffering from chronic migraines are considered disabled.
(Migraine Research Foundation, WebMD)
Migraine is ranked as one of the most disabling diseases in the world today. According to studies, chronic migraine (an advanced form of migraine) is a migrainous headache that attacks its patient at least 15 days inside one month for 3 months minimum.
This form of migraine is highly disabling as it can easily prevent the patients from effectively performing their daily activities.
13. In 2017, NIH funding for migraine relief research was about $0.50 per sufferer.
(Migraine Research Foundation)
This goes further to show the lack of support for migraine treatment. Most of the available funds are currently being distributed by members of the Migraine Research Fund’s (MRF) board of directors.
MRF is an organization that awards grants and support to researchers globally looking to investigate new treatments for rare types of migraine headaches and other areas like basic science, genetics, etc.
14. More than 4 million migraine sufferers have chronic daily migraines.
(Migraine Research Foundation, NCBI)
Chronic migraine is characterized by its frequency of attacks (at least 15 migraine days per month). Non-chronic sufferers may experience migraines a few times a month but not as frequently as those with chronic migraines.
The causes of chronic migraine are mainly synonymous with adulthood and lifestyles related to adults. Some of the causes of chronic migraine are fluctuations in estrogen in females, stress, drinking, lack of sleep, and many others. Anxiety, depression, caffeine intake, and medication overuse are also major triggers of chronic migraines.
Migraine Statistics by Country
15. 13% of the US population is suffering from migraines.
(Headaches.org, Migraine Research Foundation)
Migraine is a common neurological disorder that affects both children and adults. According to migraine statistics in the US, the differences between how different demographics are affected by it are quite pronounced. At least 18% of American women, 10% of American children, and 6% of American men experience one form of migraine another.
16. There are only 700 certified headache specialists in the US to cater to over 39 million migraine sufferers.
(Migraine Research Foundation, The Washington Post)
The disparity between headache specialists and migraine sufferers in the US and the world is glaring. To make matters worse, most headache hospitals are located exclusively in larger cities.
17. 86 million working/school days are lost each year because of migraine alone in the UK.
Stats on different types of headaches reveal that in the UK, migraine affects more than 23% of adults. This results in almost 200,000 migraine attacks across the country every day. Also, migraine is considered the top neurological disorder responsible for most accidents and emergency attendance in the country.
18. Over 157 million workdays are lost annually in the US due to migraines.
(Migraine Research Foundation)
Migraine facts reveal migraine to be a very disabling disease capable of preventing anyone from performing at their full capacity. In the US alone, millions of workdays are lost because of migraine sufferers who are incapable of maintaining a full- or part-time job.
19. It is estimated that US industries lose $31 billion per year due to migraine attacks.
Absenteeism, medical expenses, and lost productivity are top contributors to this figure.
20. Migraine costs the UK economy £8.8 billion annually in lost productivity.
Recent migraine statistics show that migraines’ continuous occurrence can lead to loss of productivity, both for the individual and industry in general.
From being absent from work to being less productive, migraine sufferers can negatively affect the economy, as we can see from the yearly loss in productivity. This figure takes into consideration the costs of healthcare, alongside other contributing factors, as revealed by top migraine statistics.
21. The cost of treating migraines alone by the NHS in the UK amounts to an estimated £150 million annually.
(Migraine Trust, Politics.co.uk)
The NHS (National Health Service) is a publicly-funded healthcare system of the United Kingdom that has been in existence since 1948. NHS is available for all UK citizens, allowing everyone to access medical and health care services without paying the full cost of services rendered by healthcare professionals.
The NHS funding for migraine goes mostly to take care of the costs of general practitioner visits and prescription drugs.
22. In 2015, more than $5.4 billion was spent treating chronic migraines in the US alone.
(Migraine Research Foundation)
Brain scans alone cost over $1 billion per year for migraine sufferers in the US. Also, the cost of treating migraines and other existing health conditions by people having chronic migraines was said to have amounted to a whopping $41 billion in 2015.
23. In the US, 1.2 million visits made to a migraine specialist are for acute migraine attacks.
(Migraine Research Foundation)
The situation with migraine in the US is so severe that there is always someone visiting a healthcare center’s emergency room to complain of head pain every 10 seconds.
24. In the UK alone, over 190,000 migraine attacks occur every day.
The situation of migraine attacks is no different in the US, as revealed by migraine stats. According to research, 3,000 migraine attacks happen every day for each million of the world’s population.
25. Close to 40 million Americans have migraines.
This equates to about 13% of the American population. This means that 1 in every 4 US households has someone suffering from migraines.
26. 4.9 million Australians experience migraines yearly.
Adults aged 20–50 years are most commonly affected, but adolescents and children are also often diagnosed with migraines.
Migraine Treatment Statistics
27. There is no absolute cure for migraines.
Experts do not know what causes migraine episodes because their pathophysiology is yet to be fully understood. However, migraine treatment plans show that there are many effective treatment routes to manage migraine and other forms of headache.
The two major ways to treat migraine are to prevent all forms of attack or minimize symptoms during an attack, with the former involving medication usage, alongside behavioral changes.
28. Migraine is undertreated and undiagnosed in at least 50% of the patients.
(Migraine Trust, American Migraine Foundation)
For most people, it is easy to confuse migraine attacks for mere headaches. Even health professionals fall into the same trap of misdiagnosing migraines as another form of headache.
Research on migraine types and symptoms shows that it can sometimes be misdiagnosed as a tension or sinus headache, as well as a number of other issues. It is also understood that less than 50% of people suffering from migraines consult a physician to solve their problem.
29. Erenumab (Aimovig) is a prescription drug approved by the FDA to treat different types of migraines.
There is no cure for migraines. However, there are different types of migraine medicine that have been approved to help prevent or minimize its symptoms. Erenumab works by inhibiting the activities of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) in the body—a molecule found to be associated with migraine attacks.
Other types of migraine medication approved by the FDA to manage migraines include lasmiditan (Reyvow) and ubrogepant tablets (Ubrelvy).
Migraine Statistics by Age and Gender
30. About 4% of boys and girls are affected by migraine before reaching puberty.
Migraine often begins at puberty but mostly affects those within the age bracket of between 35 and 45 years. However, migraine sufferers’ statistics show that it can also affect teenagers, even before they hit puberty.
31. Migraine affects just over 19% of females and 9% of males.
(Medical News Today, Science Daily)
Research has connected hormones to migraines. The female sex hormone estrogen changes cause cells around key nerves in the head and connected blood vessels to become more sensitive to migraine triggers, causing more severe and more frequent migraine attacks.
32. 70% of all people living with migraine disease are women.
(Headaches.org, Science Daily)
We mentioned earlier that over 1 billion migraine sufferers are living globally. Well, it turns out that the majority of these patients are women.
Research on migraine headaches types shows that it affects men, women, and children alike. However, women are most commonly affected due to the migraine-inducing effect of the female hormone—estrogen.
33. About 10% of school-age children experience migraines.
(Migraine Research Foundation, American Migraine Foundation)
What’s more, up to 28% of adolescents that fall within the age bracket of 15–19 years are affected by migraines. In fact, 50% of all migraine sufferers experience their first attack before the age of 12.
Reports on migraine symptoms inform us that migraine often goes undiagnosed in children. This is because, unlike adults, children have difficulty understanding the pain and disruption caused by their migraines. In most cases, they cannot always vocalize or describe what they feel, making diagnosis even more difficult.
34. During adolescence, the risk of migraine rises severely in women.
(Migraine Research Foundation)
Before puberty, boys are affected more than girls. However, the reverse is the case once they hit puberty, as shown by recent migraine statistics. This drastic upward reversal causes as many as three women to experience migraines in their lifetime before one man experiences the same.
Are migraines common?
Yes, migraine is a common health condition.
It affects over 1 billion people worldwide. Women are more prone to migraine attacks than their male counterparts. According to available reports, migraine affects 1 in every five women and about 1 in every 15 men.
How debilitating is a migraine?
Migraine is a very debilitating form of headache accompanied by a deep pain on one side or both sides of the head. Unlike those suffering from ordinary headaches, people experiencing migraines often require prescription medication to eliminate their migraine symptoms.
Do people die from migraine?
Yes, someone suffering from migraines can actually die because of such a condition.
Migraine (particularly the ones with an aura) is associated with death from cardiovascular (heart) diseases and stroke.
Are migraines lifelong?
Migraine is considered a lifelong debilitating illness that hampers its patients’ productivity, especially during their most productive years.
This is bolstered by the fact that no absolute cure for migraines currently exists. Current treatment is aimed at either preventing attacks or minimizing symptoms.
Are there different types of migraines?
Yes, there are a number of different types of migraines. They include:
- Migraine without an aura: This form of migraine comes with no prior notice or signs.
- Migraine with an aura: A prevalent type of migraine with additional neurological symptoms that may occur before a migraine episode.
- Chronic migraine: Chronic migraine is a form of migraine that features attacks occurring on more than 15 days in a month, spanning over a minimum of 3 months.
- Menstrual migraine: A specific condition where the timing of attacks is linked to the menstrual cycle.
- Migraine with brainstem aura: This is an unusual and rare subtype, formerly known as basilar-type migraine.
- Hemiplegic migraine: A recent hemiplegic migraine statistic shows that this is a rare condition characterized by a temporary weakness on one side of the body.
- Vestibular migraine: A form of migraine manifesting in dizziness, balance problems, and vertigo.
- Abdominal migraine: Most often seen in children, a syndrome that may be associated with migraine.
- Cyclical vomiting syndrome: A syndrome that may be associated with migraine.
- Headache associated with exercise: Primary exercise headache and cardiac cephalalgia.
What causes migraines?
The following factors may result in a migraine:
- Hormonal fluctuations in women: This includes changes in estrogen production in the female body during pregnancy, menstrual periods, and menopause.
- Hormonal medications: Hormonal medications, e.g., hormone replacement therapy (HRT) drugs, can increase the intensity of migraines.
- Drinks: Drinks like alcohol, caffeine, and wine can cause migraines, especially when consumed in excess.
- Stress: This is probably one of the most common sources of migraine.
- Sensory stimuli: Migraine stats show that sensory stimuli such as bright lights, strong smells from chemicals, etc., can also cause migraines.
- Sleep changes: Excess sleep or no sleep at all can bring about migraines in many people.
- Physical factors: Intensive physical exertion like exercise and sexual activity can cause migraines.
- Changes in weather: Weather changes can also cause migraines.
- Foods: Salty foods and aged cheeses can trigger migraines.
- Food additives: Food additives such as aspartame can trigger an allergy in a person, leading to a migraine attack.
A migraine is a form of headache that manifests as periodic attacks of severe head pain. It is often associated with other symptoms such as sensitivity to light, anxiety, nausea, and vomiting.
Migraine statistics show that this disease can cause an overall reduction of quality of life for a person and is therefore considered a worldwide burden to human life globally. Due to migraines’ severity and widespread nature, some nations gross billions of dollars per year to treat migraine symptoms alone. This spans across brain scans to prescription drugs and other health services, some of which cost a fortune.