Epidemiology of Common Headache Disorders

  • Lars Jacob Stovner
  • Redda Tekle Haimanot


This chapter starts with a brief discussion of some main methodological issues related to headache epidemiology, such as case definitions, method of data collection, time frame of the headache, and representativeness of the source population. It then presents the results of all major studies of adequate methodology, demonstrating that the 1-year prevalence of headache is around 50%, of migraine 11%, of tension-type headache (TTH) almost 40%, and of chronic daily headache (CDH) 3%. Cluster headache has a lifetime prevalence of 0.2%. Most headaches affect women more than men, and migraine is particularly prevalent among young and middle-aged adult women. Migraine often starts in childhood in men, but often at a later age in women. The disease varies considerably through life, but it tends to be a lifelong disorder in the majority. Headaches are more prevalent among those of lower socioeconomic status, and there may also be geographical and racial variations in the prevalence.

Many associations between headaches and potential risk factors and comorbid diseases have been found, but the degree to which these associations represent causal connections is largely unknown. For disorders like anxiety, depression, epilepsy, and others, the comorbidity with migraine may be due to common pathophysiological mechanisms. Migraine with aura seems to be a risk factor for cerebrovascular ischemic events among younger women. A most important task for headache epidemiological research in the future will be to identify preventable risk factors for and consequences of headache.


Cluster Headache Migraine With Aura Chronic Daily Headache Migraine Without Aura Medication Overuse Headache 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Lifting The Burden 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NeuroscienceNorwegian National Headache Centre, Norwegian University of Science and Technology and St. Olavs HospitalTrondheimNorway
  2. 2.Medical FacultyAddis Ababa UniversityAddis AbabaEthiopia

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