Migraine is a common, multifactorial, disabling, recurrent, hereditary neurovascular headache disorder affecting 15% of the population during the formative and most productive periods of their lives, between the ages of 22 and 55 years. It usually strikes sufferers a few times per year in childhood and then progresses to a few times per week in adulthood, particularly in females. Attacks often begin with warning signs (prodromes) and aura (transient focal neurological symptoms) whose origin is thought to involve the hypothalamus, brainstem, and cortex. Once a headache develops, it typically throbs, intensifies with an increase in intracranial pressure, and presents itself in association with nausea, vomiting, and abnormal sensitivity to light, noise, and smell. It can also be accompanied by abnormal skin sensitivity (allodynia) and muscle tenderness. Collectively, the symptoms that accompany a migraine from the prodromal stage through the headache phase suggest that multiple neuronal systems function abnormally. As a consequence of the disease itself or its genetic underpinnings, the migraine brain is altered structurally and functionally. These molecular, anatomical and functional abnormalities provide a neuronal substrate for an extreme sensitivity to fluctuations in homeostasis, a decreased ability to adapt, and the recurrence of a headache.
Migraine is a recurrent headache disorder affecting 15% of the population during the formative and most productive periods of their lives, between the ages of 22 and 55 years. It frequently starts in childhood, particularly around puberty, and affects women more than men (3:1 female-to-male ratio). It tends to run in families and, as such, is considered a genetic disorder.