The exact cause of migraine headaches is still unknown but about 25 percent of Americans will experience one in their lifetime. Migraine syndrome is among the 20 most debilitating diseases and disorders. I personally can testify to the horrible pain and inability to function when one has a migraine headache. Triggers and risk factors are separate things. This article deals with risk factors (things that make you more likely to get a migraine) rather than triggers (things that can cause a migraine in people that get them). I chose these four because, based on my research, they seemed to be the most common.
Women are at much higher risk than men when it comes to migraines. Women are three times more likely than men to be afflicted with migraines. The exact reason isn’t known but researches suspect that it has to do with female hormones. Based on my research I would say that this is the single greatest risk factor. Of course, not all women get migraines, but being female does put you at higher risk.
Having a Family History of Migraine
There is an increased risk of suffering from migraines if you have a family history of migraine headaches. More than 70 percent of people who get migraines have a family member who also gets them. Be aware that migraine headaches are often misdiagnosed as tension or stress headaches. Visual changes and auras are often associated with migraine headaches. But just because a person doesn’t experience this doesn’t mean it’s not a migraine. About 20 percent of people who suffer from migraines often experience visual changes or auras prior to the onset of the headache, but that means almost 80 percent do not. The fact that migraines can be experienced differently in different people does make them trickier to diagnose than some more straightforward conditions. This means that you may have relatives who suffer from migraine headaches but have been told that they are some other kind of headache.
Being Between 15-55 Years Old1
Most people at risk for migraine headaches are fairly young, often between 15 and 55 years old. That’s not to say that older and younger people cannot or do not get migraines (they can and do), but being in this age group makes it more likely. This article provides some great links to more migraine information and research.
Many females who get migraines experience them cyclically, in tune with their monthly menstrual cycle. I find it very interesting that the end of the at risk age group is 55 as many women have experienced menopause by that time, reducing those monthly hormonal fluctuations.
Unfortunately, there’s not much we can do about any of these risk factors other than be aware of them. If you have any of the above risk factors and/or you get debilitating or intensely painful headaches please call your doctor. I hope that you never experience a migraine, but if you do seek medical attention. There are treatments for current attacks and to prevent future attacks. Migraine headaches can be managed.