Migraine Headache

By: Tara Schmidlen, MS, LCGC, Coriell Institute for Medical Research
Reviewed by: Larisa Syrow, MD, Cooper University Hospital

What is a Migraine Headache?
A migraine headache is different than a typical headache that people may have from time to time. Migraine headaches involve severe pulsating, throbbing or pounding pain on one side of the head frequently accompanied by other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and/or sound. Without treatment, migraine headaches can last between a few hours to a few days1.

Before a migraine headache occurs, some people experience abnormal sensations called "auras" like seeing everything as a blur, seeing wavy lines, flashing lights or strange shapes, difficulty speaking, or feeling numbness or tingling in an arm or leg1.

The cause of migraine headaches remains unknown. Both acute and preventative treatments are available. Successful management of migraine headaches is centered on identification of what triggers an individual's migraine headaches and making every effort to avoid those triggers. Frequency and severity of migraine headaches can also be reduced through lifestyle changes and medications.

How Common Are Migraine Headaches?

Migraine headaches affect approximately 18% of women and 6% of men in the United States2.

To schedule a free telephone consultation to discuss your CPMC results with a board-certified genetic counselor, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Learn more about Migraine Headaches, from symptoms to understanding your risk, through the links below.

Page References

1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0024778/
2. Lipton, R.B. et al (2007). Migraine prevalence, disease burden, and the need for preventive therapy. Neurology. 68 (5): 343-349.

Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Learn more about Migraine Headaches Learn More› ]

Risk Factors

Both genetic and non-genetic factors play a role in Migraine Headaches Learn More› ]

Reduce Your Risk

Risk-reducing behaviors for Migraine Headaches Learn More› ]

The CPMC Study

Learn how the CPMC Study identifies your risk for Migraine Headaches Learn More› ]