Online Survey Reveals Impact Migraines Have on Sufferers’ Lives

Online Survey Reveals Impact Migraines Have on Sufferers’ Lives

A new online survey of individuals who experience migraines shows that most sufferers are dissatisfied with treatments, report difficulty getting diagnoses and feel isolated and stigmatized.

The annual survey was conducted by  The 145-question survey was completed by 3,923 migraine sufferers.

Summary of Findings from Migraine in America 2016:

  • Migraine infographic

    Courtesy of
    Click for larger image

    61% of sufferers experienced symptoms before the age of 19

  • 93% experience head pain, 16% experience muscle weakness and 12% restless leg syndrome
  • 58% reported attacks lasting 5 days or more
  • 59% reported that their symptoms vary from one attack to another
  • 90% scheduled a doctor’s appointment for their migraine and 42% also went to the ER or Urgent Care
  • What triggers migraine?
    • 81% say weather or barometric pressure trigger migraine
    • 69% say smells or perfumes trigger migraine
    • 67% say bright light is a trigger
    • 62% say stress is a migraine trigger
  • Impact on well-being
    • 67% feel others do not understand that migraine is not just a headache
    • 64% constantly worry about disappointing others
    • 46% are embarrassed about having migraine
    • 41% hide their migraines from others
  • Impact of life
    • 93% say migraine impact their ability to work
    • 89% say migraine impact their relationship with their partner
    • 87% say migraine impact their ability to attend school
    • 86% say migraine impact their relationship with their children
  • How migraines are treated differ
    • 94% use over-the-counter medication
    • 89% use abortive/acute prescription medication
    • 84% use preventative prescription medication
    • 64% use rescue prescription medication

“No one took my symptoms seriously until I was in my 20’s,” says Kerrie Smyres. “I have had chronic migraine since I was age 11, but was not diagnosed until I was 25. When I was kid, most people thought I was making excuses to skip school. In all those years that my symptoms were dismissed, I internalized the stigma of migraine. I’m nearly 40 and, after three years of intense therapy, have finally stopped questioning if my symptoms were as severe as I believe them to be.”

Katie Golden, a patient advocate, asks: “Why are they dissatisfied with their treatment? Are they not seeing the right doctor? Are they scared to try something different – had a bad experience?” She goes on to say, “I think there is always something new I can try, whether it is a balance of traditional and alternative treatments. I do my due diligence to learn about treatments before deciding, but I feel you can’t be afraid to try or you’ll be stuck where you are. Everyone deserves to have their pain alleviated.”

Migraine is a disorder characterized by recurrent headaches that can be moderate to severe.  They often last from two to 72 hours and may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to lights, smells and certain sounds.  Some migraines are accompanied by aura.

“The belief that migraine is just a bad headache is so prevalent that even the people we’re closest to don’t believe the extent of migraine’s symptoms. Migraine attacks are often physically brutal; the lack of support people with migraine receive can be just as vicious emotionally,” said Smyres.

The Migraine in America 2016 survey was conducted online between May and June 2016.

Subscribe to our blog via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Authored by: Staff

newest oldest
Notify of

Thank you Mark. I will ask my pcp to do the test. It would be nice to have proof that my body requires more pain meds and that I am NOT drug seeking! I wish to god that I was like the people who can take one Tylenol for post surgical pain and get relief.
I have tried marijuana for pain control and while I have only taken3 or 4 hits at a time it did hepatitis little with some pain but sadly gave me a headache and panic attacks. I think perhaps I haven’t had access to the right strains. I am going to try to get the proper strain and grow my own to see if that works. Luckily I live where it’s legal to grow and use but illegal to buy.

Mark Ibsen

Please get the cyp450 test for opioid metabolism.
It is a DNA swab
Covered by most insurers.
You’re not flawed, you have a different genetic pathway for metabolizing opiates.

Medical cannabis: 95% of my migraineurs get relief.
Acutely to abort an attack
Chronically to prevent recurrence.
Good luck
And to you too Pamela


The only thing that works for my migraines is daily topamax as needed oxycodone and a shot of Demerol when they flare with a nice dark room total silence and ice bags for my eyes and head. Barometric pressure is spot on my head is a living weather instrument. I can relate immensely to these findings and I’m sure even those without migraines but with chronic pain can too. Let’s hope more surveys more research opens up better treatment plans more compassion for those suffering in silence.


The headaches I get seem to be different from the ” normal” migraine headaches. I have tried numerous medications as well as bio feedback, massage,chiropractic,accupuncture, acupressure, traction,and many other things to no avail. The only thing that works is a large enough dose of opiate medication to knock me out for a couple hours. I suffer from various chronic pain issues and sadly it takes a lot of medication to do anything for my pain. I often wonder if it’s “all in my head” even while I know it’s not. I hadn’t had a migraine in years while using 125 mcg fentanyl and 4 mg dilaudid every 3 hours but since the CDC came out with their new guidelines for opioid analgesics my doctor has severely reduced my dosage and the migraine headaches are back with a vengeance. I know that my dosages were pretty high but it is not in my control to change what my stupid body requires for pain control. I was on the same dosage for many years and had just gotten to where I needed more or possibly different meds. I dread living in the kind of Pain that I know is coming.

As one who suffered yrs I agree. My Dr put me on Elavil 100mg I’m migraine free for 15 yrs still get the side effects blurred vision and odor but no headaches. Pam