16% of the population of developed countries suffer from it every day

Did you know that headaches are one of the most common ailments in the world? According to a recent meta-study, about every sixth person in industrialized countries suffers from it every day. In addition, one in two people in the world suffers from migraines every year.

Data from over 350 publications

A few months ago, a neurologist recalled that migraines affect no fewer than ten million French people. In 2016, the WHO stated that between 1.7 and 4% of the adult world population suffered from headaches at least 15 days a month. A meta-study published by Norwegian researchers on April 12, 2022 in the Journal of Headache and Pain has made it possible to take stock of all the data on this disease.

Neurologists from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology compiled the full dataset from prevalence and epidemiology studies, totaling 357 publications published between 1961 and 2020 about headaches. The same data were then screened using two different static methods, namely bivariate analysis and a multiple linear regression model. The researchers defined four different categories : Headaches in general, migraines, headaches that occur more than 15 days a month and tension headaches.

Remember that tension headaches, which are continuous and moderate pain distributed throughout the skull, the most common headaches. This pain, which can be exacerbated by anxiety and stress, is often accompanied by difficulty concentrating. On the other hand, migraines occur in the context of crises, with a local pain on one side of head. In addition, unlike tension headaches, these are intensified with exertion.

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Women more affected than men

According to the meta-study, the prevalence is 52% in most developed countries about headaches in general. Tension-type headache accounts for 26% of cases, migraine for 14%, and headache lasting more than fifteen days per month for 4.6%. In other words, no less than 16% of the population of developed countries has it daily headache. In addition, given that the data refer to the last sixty years, it appears that the prevalence is trending upwards. On the other hand, nothing at the moment allows to firmly confirm it.

The researchers also provided details on the age and gender of the individuals who suffered from headaches. According to the results, women are affected by headaches in 57.8% of cases and are more common after puberty and up to the age of 60. This protects children, young people and older people more.

Finally, scientists believe that adapting public health interventions necessarily requires better knowledge and characterization of headaches by population. Therefore, more research is needed on it Low- and middle-income countries.

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