Migraine Facts

The American Headache Society, the American Headache Disorders Advocacy, the World Health Organization and the Migraine Research Foundation list the following facts about migraine and headache disease. Sharing these facts via social media is one way of becoming an advocate for your disease.

American Headache Society

  • The number of women in the US with chronic migraine is about the same size as the population of the state of Iowa at 3.2 million.
  • The number of men in the US with chronic migraine is about the same size as the population of San Francisco at 750,000.
  • The combined number of people in the US with chronic migraine is about the same as the population of Los Angeles and Chicago combined at about 4 million.
  • It is estimated that 144 million people in the world have chronic migraine. This is the same as the number of people who watched the Super Bowl and Oscars combined.

Alliance for Headache Disorders Advocacy

  • There are 36 million migraine patients and funding for research from NIH equates to $0.67 per patient. In contrast, there are 350,000 patients with multiple sclerosis and they receive funding equivalent to $291 per patient from the NIH.
  • Headache disorders cause more than 1 percent of all disability and 9 percent of all lost labor in the US every year.
  • Headache disorders are the most prevalent neurological disorders, affecting more than 90% of all Americans. Migraine is the #1 cause of US neurological disability
  • The US annual direct and indirect economic costs of headache disorders exceed $31 billion.
  • NIH funding for all research on headache disorders was < 0.08% of the 2014 NIH budget ($24M)

The World Health Organization

  • Headache disorders are among the most common disorders of the nervous system.
  • It has been estimated that almost half of the adult population have had a headache at least once within the last year.
  • Headache disorders, which are characterized by recurrent headache, are associated with personal and societal burdens of pain, disability, damaged quality of life, and financial cost.
  • Worldwide, a minority of people with headache disorders are diagnosed appropriately by a health-care provider.
  • Headache has been underestimated, under-recognized and under-treated throughout the world.
  • Not only is headache painful, but it is also disabling. In the Global Burden of Disease Study, updated in 2013, migraine on its own was found to be the sixth highest cause worldwide of years lost due to disability (YLD). Headache disorders collectively were third highest.
  • Only half of those identified with migraine had seen a doctor for headache-related reasons in the previous 12 months, and only two-thirds had been correctly diagnosed. Most were solely reliant on over-the-counter medications.
  • Appropriate treatment of headache disorders requires training of health professionals, accurate diagnosis and recognition of the conditions, appropriate treatment with cost-effective medications, simple lifestyle modifications, and patient education.
  • In the United States of America and the United Kingdom, only half of those identified with migraine had seen a doctor for headache-related reasons in the previous 12 months, and only two-thirds had been correctly diagnosed. Most were solely reliant on over-the-counter medications.
  • Barriers to effective care: Lack of knowledge among health-care providers is the principal clinical barrier, Poor awareness extends to the general public.
  • Many governments, seeking to constrain health-care costs, do not acknowledge the substantial burden of headache on society.

Migraine Research Foundation

  • While most sufferers experience attacks once or twice a month, more than 4 million Americans have chronic daily migraine, with at least 15 migraine days per month.
  • Every 10 seconds, someone in the U.S. goes to the emergency room complaining of head pain, and approximately 1.2 million visits are for acute migraine attacks.
  • Migraine is the 6th most disabling illness in the world.
  • Migraine tends to run in families. About 90% of migraine sufferers have a family history of migraine.
  • Migraine is most common between the ages of 25 and 55.
  • 18% of American women, 6% of men, and 10% of children experience migraines.
  • 12% of the population – including children – suffers from migraine.
  • Nearly 1 in 4 U.S. households includes someone with migraine.
  • Migraine is the 3rd most prevalent illness in the world.
  • More than 90% of sufferers are unable to work or function normally during their migraine.
  • Migraine is an extremely incapacitating collection of neurological symptoms.
  • It’s typically a severe throbbing recurring pain, usually on one side of the head. But in about 1/3 of attacks, both sides are affected.
  • Attacks are often accompanied by one or more of the following disabling symptoms: visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, extreme sensitivity to sound, light, touch and smell, and tingling or numbness in the extremities or face.
  • About 25% of migraine sufferers also have a visual disturbance called an aura, which usually lasts less than an hour.
  • In 15-20% of attacks, other neurological symptoms occur before the actual head pain.
  • Attacks usually last between 4 and 72 hours.
  • Medication overuse is the most common reason why episodic migraine turns chronic.
  • Depression, anxiety, and sleep disturbances are common for those with chronic migraine.
  • Migraine affects about 28 million women in the U.S.
  • Before puberty, boys are affected more than girls, but during adolescence, the risk of migraine and its severity rises in girls.
  • Roughly 1 in 4 women will experience migraine in their lives.
  • Three times as many women as men suffer from migraine in adulthood.
  • About half of female sufferers have more than one attack each month, and a quarter experience 4 or more severe attacks per month.
  • Migraine 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. Recently, infant colic was found to be associated with childhood migraine and may even be an early form of migraine.
  • Children who suffer are absent from school twice as often as children without migraine.
  • In childhood, boys suffer from migraine more often than girls; as adolescence approaches, the incidence increases more rapidly in girls than in boys.
  • A child who has one parent with migraine has a 50% chance of inheriting it, and if both parents have migraine, the chances rise to 75%.
  • Healthcare and lost productivity costs associated with migraine are estimated to be as high as $36 billion annually in the U.S.
  • Healthcare costs are 70% higher for a family with a migraine sufferer than a non-migraine affected family.
  • American employers lose more than $13 billion each year as a result of 113 million lost work days due to migraine.
  • U.S. headache sufferers receive $1 billion worth of brain scans each year.
  • Beyond the burden of a migraine attack itself, having migraine increases the risk.
  • More than half of all migraine sufferers are never diagnosed.
  • The vast 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.
  • Although 25% of sufferers would benefit from preventive treatment, only 12% of all sufferers receive it.