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Migraine In America 2017: Migraine Frequencies – Exactly How Different Are They?

We conducted a large survey of people who have migraine, and asked many questions about what it’s like living with different types of migraine. We then examined the type of migraine as characterized by frequences of occurence. The three segments we examined were episodic (1-9 migraine days/month), high-frequency episodic (10-14 migraine days/month), and chronic (15 or more days/month – represents 7.7% of the population) migraine. Here are some highlights from what our community shared with us:

Common symptoms

Regardless of migraine frequency, people with episodic, high-frequency episodic, & chronic migraine listed head pain as their most concerning symptom. Additionally, 37% of respondents experienced aura during migraine attacks regardless of migraine frequency.

head pain and visual aura



While head pain is the most commonly experienced migraine symptom, clumsiness, vertigo, and memory loss were also reported. People with chronic migraine experienced each of these three symptoms more frequently than people with high-frequency episodic and episodic migraine.

How migraine symptoms differ



People with migraine report a large number of triggers and have a number of strategies to avoid or manage them. Across the three types of migraine frequencies, people living with chronic migraine were most likely to avoid certain food and modify their diet & activities compared to people with high frequence or episodic migraine.

avoiding migraine triggers


Pain and anxiety

When people are in pain, their ability to think can be negatively impacted leading to confusion, memory loss, or inability to focus. Pain and anxiety symptoms differed across migraine type, with high-frequency episodic and chronic migraine respondents experiencing more cognitive anxiety than episodic respondents.

cognitive anxiety


Shared hopefulness

Despite the differences across chronic, high-frequency episodic, and episodic migraine patients, those who are aware of upcoming new treatments such as CGRPs are likely to express their hopefulness.

hopeful for new migraine treatments

The Migraine In America 2017 online survey gathered insights from over 4500 individuals between April-May 2017 who were diagnosed with at least one type of migraine to better understand their diagnosis and treatment, as well as the impact on their lives.


  • Marysu
    1 year ago

    I have a lifetime of migraines in my wake. (I just turned 70!) I have a bad one right now, as a matter of fact. In October I discovered Migraine Buddy, an app for tracking migraines, and it has been a huge help to me! I cannot recommend it highly enough. It helps me quantify my symptoms and pain and has shown me that I do have real migraine free days, or very marginal ones, and has validated things I had observed but there was no information or data on, like my ability to know today that we are in for a doozy of a storm three days from now! After so many years of not being believed or being labeled as “drug seeking” this app and some of its links have finally given me the confirmation of my observations. I cannot tell you the difference this has made in how I feel about myself and my migraine life!

  • ladymet117
    1 year ago

    Hi Marysu. I read your story and about migraine buddy. Never heard of it but I downloaded it. Will be using it from now on instead of the migraine log that my neurologist gave me. And I can print out to take to my next appointment! Thanks for the wonderful info!

  • ladymet117
    1 year ago

    Sorry *print it out*

  • cissy2018
    1 year ago

    Yes I believe I am going into Chronic migraines. I noticed when one is about to come on my face is getting flushed it heats up pretty bad and then boom a migraine. Is this another type of symptom the getting flushed.

  • pigen51
    1 year ago

    I would say that if it is something that happens with each migraine, then for you it is a symptom, for you. Everyone experiences slightly different things with migraine, as everyone is slightly different.
    I know that a symptom for me, that I don’t see too often in others, is fever and chills.
    I was at a vacation place in northern Michigan, when a horrible migraine got started. My wife took me to a hospital emergency room. It was summer, but towards evening, so the temperature was not hot. And yet, when we got into the exam room, my shirt was soaked, like I had been out in a rain storm. The nurse happened to be a person that I knew from when my ex wife had a baby, and she was a training nurse, who taught Lamase classes. She couldn’t believe how much I was sweating, and yet I had by then started to shiver from chills.
    Mostly I would say that if you have something that happens with every migraine, then it is a symptom, for you. If it is troubling or gets worse, I would certainly mention it to my doctor. Just to be sure that it is not a symptom of something worse, like a TIA stroke or something.
    But I would encourage you that no how bad things get, life is still worthwhile. And like the rest of us migraine patients, keep searching for what works for you. I have been a sufferer for over 40 years, and yet I continue to seek a solution, for me.

  • Always the optimist
    2 years ago

    having had migraine aura for three years
    I am now wandering if it will ever go away
    I can get very depressed about this
    and I feel very worn out
    I want to know if any one else feels like this

  • ladymet117
    1 year ago

    Hi. I have been having migraines for about 26 years. Most of the time I get auras, but not every time. I too get depressed because I get migraines 5-6 days a week! It wears me out! So I know what you are going through!

  • Always the optimist
    11 months ago

    thanks for replying I don’t come on too often as you can see
    I have had blocked ears for a month now the oil doesn’t seem to work and I will have them syringed in a couple of weeks
    just wandering if this is a part of having migraines constantly wandered if anyone else has any experience of blocked sinus and ears

  • DebbieD.
    2 years ago

    Responding to the woman wanting to try aimovig. The first 2 doses are FREE. So your Neuro can send in the papers for you.

    Also, the person feeling hopeless b/c aimovig didn’t work. My Neuro said Aimovig binds to the micro chemical CGRP that causes the migraine.

    He also said if this doesn’t work for me he said he anticipates ANOTHER drug coming out in oct that actually prohibits your cells from even producing CGRP.

    I’ve had tons of IV infusions. My cocktail is DHE, ZOFRAN, AND BENADRYL.

    2 weeks ago I got horribly nauseous and retching, causing reflux and asthma to flair. Because I had gotten slightly nauseous the day before he ordered DHE, Phenergan AND Benadryl.

    I got terribly sick 1/2 way through the second day. That’s when he changed to phenergan.

    It still didn’t work for nausea.

    No bad reaction to AIMOVIG.

  • margaretmear
    2 years ago

    In regards to self talk, especially when I have a migraine, I try to remember if I talked to my friends the same way I talk to myself would I have any friends left?

  • DebbieD.
    2 years ago


  • LeilaniRL
    2 years ago

    I am in the same boat as all of you. I am so frustrated and I’ve held back my venting until recently. Now, I tell everybody about my pains. But people don’t understand and it sucks. They think it’s just a “headache” but we all know it’s way more. For me, the biggest issue is my cognitive functions aren’t what they used to be. I can no longer multitask. I get lost easily. My eyes play tricks on me. I’m anxious all the time.

  • bet
    2 years ago

    I never knew that there was more than one kind of migraines. I was always told you have a migraine drink as much as I could. or sleep it off. then after going to a doctor after moving to AZ. I was told I have chronic, then told I have clusters. and now after being sent the link for here its also a disease too.? I have had migraines from age 9 made to feel and believe that I am crazy. I have a lot other things going on with my health.i am just trying to take this all in that there are soo many that are dealing with this stuff too.why is it soo hard to get the doctors, lawyers and courts to know about this ?I know I can not be the only one to try to get S.S.D./S.S.I. I have in hell most of my life beaten because of migraines people not .believing or just caring,fighting with lawyers and the courts over this and the other things going on with me to but none of them know or understands or again do not care about those of us who have no choice but deal with migraines they just don’t know the pain that can get so bad that some want to or has taken their life to get away from it.what can we do. I know that there is a thing out that makes it so men can feel what it feels like to having a baby so why not something to make others to feel what its like to have a migraine?

  • DebbieD.
    2 years ago

    I was able to get disability through my psych. She wrote I would have the severe anxiety and repeating major depression so long as I had migraines.

    Because you can’t see a migraine a physical is useless. So I met with the psychologist who saw my confusion and inability to think.

    My above systoms were on high alert because we couldn’t find the disability office and that put me into a panic.

    My daughter who is a physician said I wasn’t even able to understand the questions he was asking. No acting, I was truly blessed we couldn’t find the office. By the time we got there I was in a pure panic. No acting. It was what it was.

    I used a disability attorney referred to me. She helped me get disability the first time around. If I had been denied, she would have gone to court for me.

    Best $ I ever spent on that attorney. It was totally out of my hands except for the psych interview.

  • Vallynam76
    2 years ago

    I’m sorry to hear of this @beth1963, nobody deserves this! No wonder we always pretend to be well!

  • drmaryb
    2 years ago

    Thank you for this interesting survey. However, one difficulty that I have in trying to respond to these questions myself (as well as to respond to my doctor), is how to quantify migraines. If I have one migraine that lasts 3-4 days, does that count as only one migraine? Or does it count as 4?

    If I have not recovered in between, it seems to be to be just one migraine. However, this could lead to significantly underestimating how much I am affected. I’m sure others have this problem too. Any suggestions?

  • Marky
    2 years ago

    I count 1 migraine as aura then head pain and nausea.
    I have had episodes of multipull migraines, where I have aura then pain/nausea, then another aura.
    Each aura episode I count as another migraine.

  • Vallynam76
    2 years ago

    Yes, @drmaryb I have the same issues. Or sometimes I will feel a migraine start to recede but within an hour or two it’s back to being as bad as ever. So is it two episodes or one?

    I generally have 2 days of migraine out of 7 and if I go for longer than 5 days without a migraine then the next one is generally a whooper where I lose consciousness for anything up to 72hrs then have mental fog for 2 days afterwards. All the while trying to have a life and work fulltime!

  • blancj8
    2 years ago

    drmaryb, you did what I did years ago. Its migraine days per month. if you have 4 migraines that are 4 days each, that is 16 days. I spent years thinking Botox wasn’t for me, because I had 5 or 6 migraines a month, but each each last 3-6 days. For me it was how I heard the requirement as ’15 migraines a month’

  • Marysu
    1 year ago

    Try using Migraine Buddy to track your migraines. It gives you a good month by month visual of how frequently you are having migraines, as well as intensity, what meds work best, etc. It does take a little time to learn how to use it but it is time well spent because I can go to my doctor and show him the app and my data!

  • OlPossum
    2 years ago

    In middle of migraine now, thank you!! I had the same issue. I know I need to use a tracker but by the time I think about it…I’m in too much pain to deal with the app. 😛

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