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Migraine Statistics

In the U.S., more than 38 million people suffer from migraines. Some migraine studies estimate that 13 percent of adults in the U.S. population have migraines, and 2-3 million migraine suffers are chronic.

Almost 5 million in the U.S. experience at least one migraine attack per month, while more than 11 million people blame migraines for causing moderate to severe disability.

About Migraine Sufferers

Migraines occur most often in:

  • Women (18 percent of women compared to 6 percent of men)
  • People between the ages of 35 and 55
  • Lowest income groups
  • Caucasian people

More Migraine Statistics

  • 91 percent miss work or can’t function normally during migraine attack
  • More than 70 percent have a family history of migraine
  • 70 percent of those in a Canadian study said migraines caused problems in their relationships
  • 70 percent of all migraine sufferers are women
  • 69 percent have consulted a physician at some time seeking treatment for migraine pain
  • 63 percent have one or more migraine attacks monthly
  • 59 percent missed family or social events
  • 53 percent have severe disability requiring reducing activities or bed rest
  • 51 percent said migraines cut in half their work or school productivity
  • Almost half of all migraine sufferers are have not been diagnosed
  • 49 percent said they had to restrict activities for at least one day during a migraine episode
  • 49 percent restricted their activities at least one day during migraine attacks
  • 47 percent of people who have symptoms that meet the guidelines to be diagnosed with migraines thought they had a tension headache, sinus headache or another type of headache
  • 31 percent missed at least one day of work or school in past three months
  • 25 percent have one or more migraines a week
  • 24 percent have gone to the emergency room because the migraine pain was so severe
  • 6 percent saw a doctor at a hospital for a migraine in the past three months

The most common migraine symptoms reported by migraine sufferers are:

(Note: these figures are from the American Migraine Study II of almost 4,000 migraine sufferers in 1999.)

Economic Impact of Migraine

Because migraines strike during the most productive, working years for sufferers, the pain takes a financial toll. The World Health Organization’s disability rating for migraine, ranks migraine as the 19th most common reason for disability. Migraine sufferers use twice the amount of prescription drugs and visit doctors and emergency rooms twice as often as those who don’t have the disorder.

One study estimates the loss of productivity in the U.S. to be between $5.6 billion to $17.2 billion per year because of missed work. The average migraine sufferer misses two days of work per year. Some who suffer from persistent migraines work during a migraine attack, which they say lowers productivity. It is estimated that migraines are the reason for 36 million days of bed rest, plus 21.5 million days of restricted activity.


Migraine sufferers also spend much more on their health care than those who don’t suffer from the disorder. Migraine sufferers use 2.5 times the amount of prescription drugs and have six times as many diagnostic tests and services. The average monthly healthcare costs for migraine sufferers is $145, while those who don’t suffer from migraines pay an average of $89 per month.

Written by: Otesa Miles | Last review date: November 2010