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News Article

Half of the Global Population Suffers from Headaches

By Miriam Bello | Mon, 04/18/2022 - 08:37

Each year, 52 percent of the world's population suffers from headaches, found a study by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. In past years, headache disorders collectively were among the leading causes of years lost due to disability, which significantly impacts the economy.

The study was based on the analysis of 357 publications ranging from 1961 to 2020 to assess the impact of a type of ailment that is not always accurately evaluated. Researchers highlighted that not all headaches have the same impact, but women tend to get headaches more often than men, 6 percent versus 2.9 percent. In addition, this analysis showed that on any given day, 15.8 percent of people suffer from a headache.

Headaches or headache disorders are among the most common disorders of the nervous system. Primary headache disorders, namely migraine, tension-type headache and cluster headache, can be painful and disabling. Headaches can also occur as side effects of other conditions, the most common being medication-overuse, explained the WHO.

The study found that headache disorders are one of the major public health concerns globally and in all countries and world regions. “In the 2019 Global Burden of Disease, migraine alone was second among the causes of disability, and first among women under 50 years of age,” said the research.

About 20 million Mexicans suffer from common headaches, according to Novartis, in a ratio of 3 women for every man. In economic terms, during the last decade, this problem has led to annual losses of MX$46.56 billion (US$2.07 billion), according to KPMG. Of these, MX$19.14 billion (US$848 million) are indirect costs associated with absenteeism and labor presenteeism and MX$27.42 million (US$1.22 billion) are due to medical consultations, hospitalization and medications.

The authors of the research stress on the need for attention to these ailments as the prevalence of headaches has been on the rise. From 2007 to 2022, the prevalence of active headaches increased from 46 percent to 52 percent, migraine went from 11 percent to 14 percent and headaches prevalent for 15 days per month increased from 3 percent to 4.6 percent. The only decrease in prevalence was on tension-type headaches, which went from 42 percent to 26 percent.

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Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Senior Journalist and Industry Analyst