Migraine and its relation with lifestyle in women

Pain Pract. 2010 May-Jun;10(3):228-34. doi: 10.1111/j.1533-2500.2009.00343.x. Epub 2010 Feb 11.


Migraine is a very common primary headache disorder with no underlying identifiable pathological cause. It has a profound effect on the well-being and general functioning of its victims. Migraine is best understood as a chronic disorder with episodic manifestations, progressive in some individuals, having dramatic social and economic costs. Migraine causes stress in patients and their families, changes the roles and lifestyles and disturbs the social interactions between family members. Being more common in women, migraine is a significant women's health concern. The low rate of headaches with identifiable organic causes suggests that individual and environmental factors are determinants of migraine. Therefore, studying lifestyle and its relation with migraine is very important. This study examines the relation between migraine headaches and lifestyle in women refereed to university clinics in Iran.

Methods: This is a case-control study of 170 patients selected randomly using Poisson sampling. The study population included female patients suffering from headache referred to the neurology clinics and health centers in Iran (with neurologist-diagnosed migraine according to the criteria of the International Society of Headache). The study population for the control group included women without migraine headache whose life conditions were similar to the migraine group and who were living in the same area. Data were collected by interview and a questionnaire which was tested for reliability and validity using content validity and retest methodologies.

Results: Findings showed a significant relation between some dimensions of lifestyle, such as diet eating habits (P = 0.001), resting and sleeping habits (P = 0.012), and drug usage patterns (P = 0.001) with migraine headaches. But there were no significant relationships noted between smoking, exercise or stress levels with migraine headaches.

Discussion: Lifestyle habits, including rest and sleep, diet and drug usage, are important factors in migraine attacks. It is important to emphasize changing habits, such as improper use of analgesics, to decrease side effects in migraine victims. The health centers should consider promoting healthy habits and behaviors as a priority in their services.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Disease Progression
  • Educational Status
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Marital Status
  • Migraine Disorders / etiology*
  • Migraine Disorders / psychology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep
  • Smoking
  • Surveys and Questionnaires