Neurologists say they are getting 5 to 6 new migraine cases everyday

Doctors observe that in India, migraine has become a major health concern as it is most common in youngsters and women; 6 out of 10 women suffer from it


Many people who suffer a headache heavily rely on a pain reliever or quick nap to get rid of it. But, so is not the case with those who suffer from migraine headaches, as the debilitating pain can get so intense that relief may seem impossible.

Doctors observe that in India, migraine headache has become a major health concern as it is most common in youngsters and women.

Dr Nirmal Surya, Neurologist at Bombay Hospital, said, “I see at least 5 to 6 people every day who are suffering from migraine. They are youngsters between age group 16 and 30 years.”

Migraine headache results from a combination of blood vessel enlargement and release of chemicals from nerve fibres that coil around those blood vessels. Usually, when people approach doctors, they come with complain of a ‘severe headache’, but only after examination, it is found that they are suffering from migraine.

Comparatively, migraine is more common in women than men as 6 out of 10 women suffer from it.

“Women take a lot of stress and if they are working then they play dual role at work and home, which is stressful for them,” said Surya.

Surya gave an example of a 42-year-old woman from Oman, who was suffering from migraine since she was 19. Her symptoms were watering of her eyes, severe one-sided headache, which someday also resulted in vomiting.

Dr Sangeeta Rawat, Professor of Neurology at KEM Hospital said migraine is also becoming common among children and blamed changing lifestyle for the rise.

“I see children and teenagers suffering from migraine. Lifestyle change is the main culprit for youngsters to suffer from it. Eating habits, stressful academic life and sometimes, even genes cause migraines,” said Rawat.

In migraine, Dr Rawat said people also complain of photophobia – discomfort or pain in eyes due to exposure to light) and phonophobia –  fear or aversion to loud sound, which can also mean fear of voice or fear of one’s own voice.

Rita Gupta (name changed), 24, has been suffering from headaches and nausea since age 15.

“When Gupta came to me for examination, we found out that due to lack of sleep, intake of caffeine and family history, she is suffering from migraine,” said Dr Pratit Sambani, Associate Professor at Breach Candy and Jaslok Hospital, Mumbai.

Many may also experience blurring of vision, feel light-headed or even faint when migraine strikes.

“Five out of 10 people suffer from migraine problems including, lack of concentration, less sleep and serious illness,” said Dr Manjusha Agarwal, Consultant Physician at Global Hospital, Mumbai.

Talking about the cure, Surya spoke about botulinum toxin, which is a new treatment wherein a small amount of Botox is injected into 22 muscles around eyes, forehead and jaw, closing muscles and back of the neck.

“This helps in curing chronic migraine as it relaxes the muscles and eases the pain. The results last up to six months to a year,” Surya said.

What triggers migraine?

  • Stress
  • Lack of sleep or jet lag
  • Food additives
  • Hunger or dehydration
  • Highly caffeinated beverages
  • Changes in weather
  • Change in hormones

What are the signs and symptoms of migraines?

  • Severe pain usually on one side of the head
  • Nausea and / or vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • Eye pain

What are the risk factors due to migraines?

  • Temporary paralysis
  • Loss of vision
  • Lack of concentration
  • Illness

Design: Jyotsna A Salunke