Clinical characteristics and patterns of medication use of migraneurs in Latin America from 12 cities in 6 countries

Headache. 2005 Feb;45(2):118-26. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4610.2005.05025.x.


Objective: The objective of this study was to document the clinical characteristics of migraine and patterns of medication use in residents > or =15 years old in 12 Latin American urban communities.

Background: Few large-scale population studies have established the symptoms and disability associated with migraine with or without aura in Latin American urban communities or the pattern of medication use in these regions.

Methods: In this study, subjects in 12 urban communities, from 6 Latin American countries, were surveyed with a validated face-to-face interview questionnaire based on International Headache Society criteria for migraine. The questionnaire was completed during face-to-face interviews with headache sufferers within selected households and included questions about migraine symptoms, migraine-related disability, and the use of health-care resources and medications to treat migraines.

Results: Of the 8618 people available for screening, 62% suffered from headaches. Of individuals with migraine, 42% reported consulting a health-care professional about their headaches. Of the migraineurs, 94.2% reported moderate to severe pain. Associated symptoms of nausea or vomiting, photophobia, phonophobia, and osmophobia were common during migraine attacks in 30.3, 76.4, 85.1, and 47.7% of subjects, respectively. The majority of subjects suffered between one and eight migraines each month. Although no previous diagnosis of migraine was reported by 65% of headache sufferers, migraineurs lost an average of 8 days in the preceding 3 months in any of the following areas: school, work, household chores, and/or social, family, or leisure activities. The agents used most widely to treat migraine were paracetamol and salicylates, while nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, dypirone, and ergotamines were also commonly used. Medication use varied widely among countries, but was predominantly nonprescription.

Conclusions: Migraine is a common disorder in Latin American urban communities imposing significant burden on individuals, families, and communities. The magnitude of the impact and the range of activities affected by migraine are similar to those of previous reports in other regions. The preponderance of nonprescription medications and the scarcity of migraine-specific triptans from the study findings are especially striking.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / therapeutic use
  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Disabled Persons
  • Efficiency
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Latin America / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / complications
  • Migraine Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Migraine Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Salicylates / therapeutic use
  • Urban Population


  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Salicylates
  • Acetaminophen