Headache is a common symptom that can be caused more than 200 different medical problems (see this link). Some causes are very visible (like brain tumors), but the most common causes like migraine and tension type headache are not visible on available imaging. Tension type headache is the most common type of headache but it is less disabling than migraine. 

How common is migraine? 

Migraine is the third most common disease in the world after dental caries and tension type headache. People usually do not know this.
Migraine affects

  • 12% of people
  • 15% of women
  • 8% of men
  • 10% of children 
  • 25% of Canadian households
  • 1-2% of the population live with chronic migraine, the severe type

So if you live with migraine, you are definitely not alone. If you are in a room with 100 random people, 11 others will have migraine, at different severity levels.

How common are other types of headaches? 

  • Tension Type headache
30 to 80% over the lifetime
20% of people overall at any given time
  • Chronic Tension Type Headache
2/1000 (probably more)
  • Cluster headache
  • New Daily Persistent Headache
  • CSF leaks
1/10 000

For comparison, prevalences of other well-known diseases

  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
1% (probably more)
  • Multiple sclerosis

Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 354 diseases and injuries for 195 countries and territories, 1990-2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. Lancet. 2018;392(10159):1789-858.


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