What Is A Migraine?

Migraine is neurological condition, characterized by headaches, which affects about 15% of the population. The most common symptoms of migraines are:

  • Recurrent headaches which last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours

  • Severe pain on one side of the head

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Sensitivity to light and sounds

According to the International Headache Society, migraines can be of two types: migraine with aura and migraine without aura. An aura is a physiological warning which occurs 5 to 60 minutes before a headache begins.

An aura develops gradually and is characterized mainly by:

  • visual disturbances such as flickering lights, spots or zig zag lines

  • sensations such as tingling, pins and needles and numbness.

  • speech impediment

Around 90% of migraine sufferers cannot function normally during a migraine and are unable carry out routine daily activities. Perhaps this is why The World Health Organization has deemed migraine to be one of the top 20 debilitating illnesses in the world

Who can get migraines?

Migraines in Adults

Whereas migraines can affect both men and women, they are more prevalent in women.

Women are three times more likely to get migraines than men and the most likely cause for this is changes in estrogen levels. Young boys are more likely to get migraines than young girls until they start menstruating.

Read more about migraines in men and women here.

Migraines in Children

Half of all migraine sufferers experience their first migraine before the age of 12. Close to 10% of school going children experience migraines and are twice as likely to miss school days when having a migraine. Headaches in children who suffer from migraines are usually less severe and often times may not occur at all. The more prevalent symptoms for childhood migraines include abdominal pain, dizziness and nausea. It is not uncommon for migraines in children to go undiagnosed.

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