Do you suffer from sinus, tension and cluster headaches or migraines? If so, you are part of the majority, according to a recent study saying over 50% of people worldwide have experienced some form of headache disorders.
The findings, published in The Journal of Headache and Pain on Tuesdaywere found after researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway reviewed 357 publications from 1961 to 2020 to see how prevalent headaches were around the world.
Most of the publications studied adults ages 20 to 65, but some included children as young as 5 years old, as well as adults over 65. The reports also mostly looked at people’s headache history over the past year, but others looked at their prevalence over to lifetime.
After reviewing the data, researchers found 52% of people worldwide have experienced a headache disorder within a given year. Of those disorders, 26% of people had tension headaches, 14% dealt with migraines and 4.6% had headaches for at least 15 days in a month.
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Migraines are one of the most severe forms of headaches, as they can cause nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound, according to the Mayo Clinic. They can last for hours to days, and “the pain can be so severe that it interferes with your daily activities.”
Of the studies that looked at headaches within the past day, researchers estimate about 15.8% of the world’s 7.9 billion population experience a headache on any day, 7% of which are dealing with a migraine. People in high-income countries like the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom reported more headaches than those in low-income countries.
Data also showed females tend to have more headaches than males, with females averaging 53%–61% of reports, compared to males around 40%–48%. Around 17% of females reported migraines, while 8.6% of males did.
“We found that the prevalence of headache disorders remains high worldwide, and the burden of different types may impact many. We should endeavor to reduce this burden through prevention and better treatment,” Lars Jacob Stovner, lead author of the study, said in a statement.
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Stovner added the data indicates globally, the rate of headaches and migraines is widely increasing, but more research is needed.
The study notes while the data provide a baseline for understanding how common headaches are, there are still some missing points. Although high-income countries had more reported headaches and migraines, people in those countries had knowledge and access to care for disorders, meaning more treatment is needed in lower-income countries.
“What is clear is that overall, headache disorders are highly prevalent worldwide and can be a high burden. It may also be of interest in future to analyze the different causes of headaches that varied across groups to target prevention and treatment more effectively,” Stovner said.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism