Did you have a headache today? You’re not alone. A new study from the Journal of Headache and Pain shows that 52% of the world’s population experiences some sort of headache disorder. In fact, 16% have some sort of headache daily.
Researchers reviewed 357 publications from high-income countries that studied tension-type headaches, migraines and headaches in hopes of updating documentation to improve health services. “Headache disorders are revealed as one of the major public-health concerns globally and in all countries and world regions,” says the study. Headache disorders are more than just head pain––they cause a disruption to your life due to consistent pain.
Not only are headache disorders a big deal for everyone, they seem to impact women twice as much as men. The study found that females experienced migraines and headaches as many as 15 times or more each month (which is two to three times more than men). While it sounds astounding, there are actual physiological reasons for the difference.
Dr. Gayatri Devi, professor of neurology at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra Northwell, told TODAY that hormones are a big reason, with many women having more migraines around their period. Prior to that, boys actually have more migraines than girls says Dr. Lauren Natbony, director at Integrative Headache Medicine of New York. “After puberty, the incidence of migraine among girls increases. After menopause, once estrogen levels drop, you have stable hormones, and the prevalence actually decreases,” she says.
Women also tend to get more periods due to posture that leads to shoulder and neck tension. Dr. Devi shares “Your hip bone is connected to your knee bone (and) ankle bone. So, basically, all that gets transferred to your head. It causes pain in your neck, which causes tension-type headaches, which can also trigger migraine headaches.”
And of course, you can also thank sleep deprivation and stress to giving you that dreaded headache. Both issues are known to contribute to them and are much more common in women than men.
As terrible as headaches are, there are ways to treat them. Incorporate exercise, good sleep habits and healthy foods into your diets. Keep track of your headaches so you can identify triggers and so you can share with your doctor, and don’t be afraid to bring up the idea of medication with your physician.