This is the reality of just how debilitating migraines can be

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Hollie Richardson
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Migraine research

As part of National Migraine Week (1 – 7 September), new research proves just how debilitating migraines can be on a daily basis. 

There is a common misconception that migraines are “just a bad headache”. But, ask one of the 190,000 sufferers in the UK who experience daily attacks, and they will tell you that migraines are so much worse than that. The reality is that symptoms can be pretty debilitating.

It’s something that’s not understood by a lot of people, with 64% of people believing their employers are not properly informed about the nature of migraines or the affect they could have on employees, according to a study from 2018.

Now, new research by the National Migraine Centre shows that 92% of migraine sufferers in the UK live in fear of migraine attacks. The fear is so bad that it has changed their outlook on life, and they truly believe they would be happier without migraines.

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The newest research supports another study from last year, conducted by My Migraine Voice, which found that 74% of the 11,266 participants spent an average of 19 hours in darkness and isolation due to migraines. Feelings of helplessness and depression were also experienced by 85% of respondents. Nearly 50% reported feeling limited in daily activities throughout a migraine, and 87% said attacks have an impact on professional, private and social domains. 

Migraines need to be taken more seriously after this new research.
Migraines need to be taken more seriously after this new research.

The newest research suggests that, along with the 190,000 daily sufferers, there are six million people in total who regularly experience migraines in the UK. 

According to the NHS, migraines affect around one in every five women and around one in every 15 men. This costs the NHS an estimated £1 billion a year in treatment and the economy around £3.24 billion a year due to people taking time off work. 

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What are the main migraine symptoms? 

A migraine is described by the NHS as “a moderate or severe headache felt as a throbbing pain on one side of the head”. It is often accompanied by symptoms including “nausea, vomiting and increased sensitivity to light or sound”.

There are different types of migraines, described by the NHS as:

migraine with aura – where there are specific warning signs just before the migraine begins, such as seeing flashing lights

migraine without aura – the most common type, where the migraine occurs without the specific warning signs

migraine aura without headache, also known as silent migraine – where an aura or other migraine symptoms are experienced, but a headache doesn’t develop

It is worth noting that people experience migraines in different ways, with some people suffering from them frequently while others go years between experiencing them.

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Clearly, migraines need to be taken seriously by our friends, colleagues and managers. And it’s worth being aware of just how much someone is suffering when they say they have a migraine. 

Images: Getty


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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…

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