Migraine statistics are as staggering as this painful condition. According to the National Headache Foundation, about 28 million Americans struggle with these debilitating headaches. Migraine incidence tends to peak between the ages of 20 and 45. In 51 percent of sufferers, migraines reduce work and/or school productivity by 50 percent. For 66 percent, household efficiency drops by 50 percent or more. Migraine severity sends 24 percent of patients to emergency rooms for relief. Learn more today to help you understand and survive migraines better.
1. The Brain Sensitivity Factor
Most researchers think that migraine patients have overly sensitive or hyper-excitable brains, so they respond to stimuli that don’t affect others. Healthcare professionals believe that abnormal levels of serotonin, a chemical that your brain produces naturally, lead to inflammation that causes intense throbbing, usually on one side of your head. Nausea and sensitivity to light and/or sound may accompany this pain.
2. Women Suffer Most Often
Boys are more likely to have migraines than girls, but they switch places at puberty. The Society for Women’s Health Research reports that three out of four migraine sufferers are women. Researchers suspect fluctuating estrogen levels play a role. Some data show that over half of migraines occur right before, during or after menstrual periods. Track your cycle so you can avoid migraine triggers during this time. Luckily, menopause improves symptoms in about two-thirds of women.
3. Sex Can Activate Migraines in Men
Intense physical exertion including sexual activity — sometimes just arousal — can cause migraines in young and mid-life men. High blood pressure increases your risk. People who’ve never had migraines also may experience headaches before, during or after sex. Taking an anti-inflammatory medication prior to sexual activity may prevent this type of migraine. Fortunately, it goes away with age usually. Other research suggests that sex can ease migraines.
4. Lightning Can Be a Trigger
A study of migraine sufferers in Ohio and Missouri found that migraine likelihood rose on days when lightning occurred nearby. The researchers speculated that lightning’s electromagnetic waves, excess ozone or increased fungus spore production could be triggers. Past studies have linked other weather-related factors such as barometric pressure and humidity to migraines.
5. Three Treatment Types Provide Relief
Even though migraines occur twice per month and last four to 72 hours on average, over half of sufferers don’t receive medical diagnoses and treatment. Prescriptions include daily preventive medications to reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks. Abortive medications like the selective serotonin receptor agonist Sumatriptan stop the migraine process and its associated symptoms. Rescue medications like pain and nausea relievers also can help manage your condition.