What is migraine?

Half to three-quarters of adults aged 18–65 years in the world have had headaches in the last year and, among those individuals, 30% or more have reported migraine. Headache on 15 or more days every month affects 1.7–4% of the world’s adult population.

It has a variety of symptoms, most notably severe headache pain. But a migraine episode is so much more than just a bad headache. The symptoms vary from person to person but can include:

Migraine can be episodic or chronic. If you experience migraine pain on 14 days a month or less, doctors classify the condition as episodic.
If you experience the pain on 15 days a month or more and have other migraine symptoms on most of these days, doctors consider it chronic migraine.


Migraine is a bit of a mystery. While the exact cause is unclear, researchers have identified a few contributing factors, including:

Researchers continue to look into the potential causes of migraine.


Experts believe that certain factors can trigger a migraine episode. The best way to prevent migraine episodes is to avoid their triggers. These can vary from person to person, and most people with migraine have several triggers.

Often, foods and drinks are involved, including:

Other common triggers include:

Risk factors

Not everyone exposed to triggers develops migraine. The following factors can help influence your risk of developing the condition:

Treatment options

There are two main types of treatment for migraine: Acute and preventive treatment.

A person takes acute treatment during a migraine episode to relieve the symptoms and stop them from getting worse. Options include over-the-counter pain relievers, prescription medications, and devices. Many of these devices provide stimulation that affects the brain’s electrical signalling.

Preventive treatment aims to reduce the frequency, severity, and duration of migraine episodes before they start. Options include medications and procedures, as well as lifestyle changes and behavioural therapy.

Preventive treatment only works for about 40 percent of the people who take it. When it does work, it helps reduce the frequency of migraine episodes by at least 50 percent.

When to see a doctor?

If you experience migraine symptoms, make an appointment with a doctor. After they confirm the diagnosis, you can work together to determine which triggers to avoid and which treatment options to try.

Written by Kimberly Holland

Source: Healthline Media

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