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What is Migraine?

Migraine is basically a form of a vascular headache that is chronic and recurrent in nature. Patients suffering from migraine usually describe it as an intense, throbbing or pounding headache which generally affects only one side of the head. Occasionally, the pain may affect both sides or may alter sides.

Migraines can occur at any age but usually commence between ten to forty years of age. The episodes tend to taper down with advancing age. Almost 15% of the population globally is affected by migraine. Women are affected thrice as more commonly as compared to men. A large number of people with migraine (almost 80%) have at least one family member who suffers from or has had migraine in the past.

The frequency of migraine headache varies largely from patient to patient - some migraineurs may experience the headache episodes several times a month whereas others may get only a few sporadic episodes in the entire year. The pain generally lasts for a few hours but at times even up to 3 days.

Migraine afflicts more than 28 million Americans according to The National Headache Foundation and is one of the common causes for absenteeism from work or loss of productivity in spite of presenteeism during sickness. Billions of dollars are spent every year on treatment for migraine as well as for research on the same.

There are two basic types of migraine headaches:

Common migraine: This accounts for almost 80% of all migraine headaches. In common migraine, there is no aura before the headache commences. Common migraine tends to be less severe as compared to classic migraine.

Classic migraine: Patients with classic migraine experience an 'aura' before their headache begins. An aura is a neurological phenomenon that precedes the migraine attack and consists of a visual disturbance in most cases.

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