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10 Facts You Might Not Know About Migraines

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There’s not much worse than having a terrible headache – except, perhaps, having a terrible headache that won’t go away. It’s not just a headache, either. Migraines are often associated with nausea, dizziness, fatigue, sensitivity to light and sound, and sometimes temporary blindness.

Sounds pretty awful, right?

If this is news to you, here are 10 more facts you might not have known, either.

#10. They may be hereditary.

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Most people find that their migraines run in the family – between 80%-90% of sufferers say that at least one family member also has them. If one parent has migraine headaches, children have a 50% chance of dealing with them, too.

#9. They’re the 3rd most common disease in the world.

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One good reason to learn about migraines is that chances are good that someone in your life suffers – they affect 14.7% of the population, or 1 in every 7 people. That’s 39 million people, just in the US.

#8. Veterans are more likely to suffer.

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After a 12-month deployment in Iraq, one study found that 36% of returning veterans exhibited symptoms. The cause stems often from head or neck trauma sustained during service, and most go away within a few months.

#7.  Women are also more likely to suffer.

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Even though women make up 50% of the population, they make up 75% of migraine sufferers worldwide. Due to laboratory research, most medical experts attribute this to the cyclical nature of female hormones.

#6. Research is underfunded.

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Last year, the National Institutes of Health invested just $22 million in migraine research – while asthma, breast cancer, and diabetes receive between $286 million and $1.1 billion.

#5. Some people experience “auras” as warning signs.

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Even more than nausea, dizziness, and headache arrive, some people (around 25%) experience numbness or tingling in the hands or face, or blotches of light or darkness disrupting their vision. These typically occur anywhere from 10-30 minutes before a migraine develops.

#4. It costs a lot of money annually.

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Because migraines are so widespread, they do havea widespread negative societal impact. Workers take time off from jobs – some estimates say up to 113 millionwork days are missed annually, which can add up to $13 billion in costs.

#3. One rare symptom is the loss of limb function.

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It’s called hemiplegic migraine and people who experience it can have weakness, numbness, tingling, or loss or motor function in part or even half of their body. The sensations typically dissipate within 24 hours.

#2. Migraines are linked to depression.

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In the US, up to 40% of migraine sufferers also deal with depression. The risks of anxiety, bipolar disorder, and panic disorder are also elevated for people who get migraines. Researchers are still working out why the link exists, but they suspect the brain chemical serotonin, which is involved in both mental illness and migraines, may play a role.

#1. Kids can get them, too.

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10% of school-aged kids will report migraines and are reported as the third most common reason for children’s emergency room visits. They have similar symptoms, though nausea and stomach pain can often be more pronounced. The good news is that, according to one study, 23% of children will report “outgrowing” their migraines by age 25.