Health. Headaches affect more than half of humanity

It’s a condition that affects more than half of humanity. 52% of the world’s population suffers from headaches every year, that is, headaches. At least that’s what a study by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) published in the British journal on April 12 confirms The Journal of Headaches and Pains.

To determine the global prevalence of headache, the researchers behind this study compiled and analyzed 357 scientific publications on the subject. These were made between 1961 and 2020 and mostly come from high-income countries. In most cases, they were carried out on people between the ages of 20 and 65.

Almost one in six suffers from it every day

According to the results of this study, the prevalence of headaches worldwide is 52% in any given year. More specifically, 26% of the world’s population has suffered from at least one tension headache (the most common type of headache), 14% from migraines, and 4.6% from chronic daily headaches (occurring at least 15 days per month).

“Every day, 15.8% of the world’s population suffers from a headache,” according to this new study, or nearly one in six. But not everyone is in the same boat.

Especially women

Norwegian researchers confirm that women are more prone to headaches overall than men. 6% of women reported daily chronic headaches in a given year, compared to 2.9% of men. But when it comes to migraines, the difference is even clearer: 17% of women say they suffer from it versus 8.6% of men.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a migraine is “triggered by the activation of a mechanism deep in the brain that causes the release of inflammatory substances”. They cause pain “around the nerves and blood vessels of the head.” How is it to be explained that this affection applies more to the female sex? “It probably has to do with female sex hormones, estrogen fluctuations in particular. The living situation of women can also play a role,” explains in The Parisian Lars Jacob Stovner, the lead author of the NTNU study.

“Overall, migraines were most common between the ages of 20 and 64, while it was slightly higher in men between the ages of 10 and 19,” the study said. Tension headaches, on the other hand, were most common “in both sexes in the 20 to 64 age group”.

More and more migraines identified

The researchers also found an increase in migraines over the years. A phenomenon that they believe can be explained by genetics, climate, light, altitude, stress or pollution. Without forgetting the improvement of knowledge on the subject, which allows to make better diagnoses.

Restricted social life, anxiety, depression… Despite advances in science, people with migraines still carry a heavy burden on their shoulders. In France, 45% of those affected believe that this disease is ruining their lives. 14.5% are being treated for depression and 15% are considering suicide. New effective treatments are emerging, such as B. Anti-CGRP antibodies, but they remain inaccessible because they are not reimbursed.

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