Migraine – what is it?
A migraine is usually a moderate or severe headache felt as a throbbing pain on 1 side of the head. Many people also have symptoms such as feeling sick, being sick and increased sensitivity to light or sound. Migraine is a common health condition, affecting around 1 in every 5 women and around 1 in every 15 men. They usually begin in early adulthood.
Symptoms and stages of migraine
- feeling sick
- being sick
- increased sweating
- poor concentration
- feeling very hot or very cold
- tummy (abdominal) pain
Facts and figures
Migraine is ranked globally as the seventh most disabling disease among all diseases (responsible for 2.9% of all years of life lost to disability/YLDs) and the leading cause of disability among all neurological disorders. It is estimated that the UK population loses 25 million days from work or school each year because of migraine. Severe migraine attacks are classified by the World Health Organization as among the most disabling illnesses, comparable to dementia, quadriplegia and active psychosis.
The exact cause of migraines is unknown, but they’re thought to be the result of abnormal brain activity temporarily affecting nerve signals, chemicals and blood vessels in the brain. It’s not clear what causes this change in brain activity, but it’s possible that your genes make you more likely to experience migraines as a result of a specific trigger.