Migraine headaches are a fairly common, but often debilitating, condition which is estimated to affect nearly a billion people worldwide. Migraines are most commonly described as extremely intense headaches, accompanied by severe pain on one side of the head. However, according to most experts, these symptoms must occur at least five times before they can be considered a migraine. As such, migraines are a persistent condition which can vary significantly in frequency and severity.
The general consensus breaks migraines into threes broad categories, low-frequency episodic migraine, high-frequency episodic migraine, and chronic migraine. Low-frequency episodic migraines are usually considered anything lower than ten symptom days per month, while high-frequency episodic migraines are typically between 10 and 14 days a month. Those suffering from Chronic migraines must have had more days with a migraine in the last three months than without, meaning more than 15 symptom days per month. What’s worse is migraines are usually a progressive condition, with around 2.5% episodic migraine patients transitioning to a chronic case every year.
While it’s not entirely known what causes headaches and especially migraines, we do know several risk factors. It’s evident stress and anxiety are often factors in not only causing migraines but also making them much more severe. However, that doesn’t mean migraines only happen when you’re stressed; in fact, it’s well documented for them to happen on the weekend or even on vacation. Doctors also think erratic eating and sleeping can contribute to your risk. They’re also much more common in women than men, with around 14 in 100 women affected, compared with only 7 out of 100 men. Interestingly, the likelihood of migraines in children is about 4 out of 100, regardless of sex.
Ultimately while developing true chronic migraines is unlikely for the vast majority of people, even low-frequency episodic migraines can often drastically alter your quality of life. That’s why understanding and exploring all your treatment options is such an important step.