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Migraine is the most common cause of disabling headache, affecting 35 million Americans. About 18 percent of women and 6 percent of men experience migraine in any year.

Migraine is most often hereditary. If you have migraines, it's likely that a family member suffers from them too. However, the severity and frequency of migraine attacks can differ dramatically between relatives. One family member may experience very rare migraine attacks, such as just after consuming alcohol ("hangover headache") or with menstrual cycles, while another may have very difficult daily, debilitating migraine.

Migraine attacks are characterized by recurrent episodes of pain, often on one side of the head, that may be throbbing or pounding. The headache is accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and sound, as well as sensitivity to head movement. Migraine can occur at any time of day or night.

As you age, migraine may subside. Studies show that migraine attacks peak between the age of 35 and 45 and then begin to decline.

Our approach to migraine

Our headache specialists – neurologists who focus on treating headaches – provide comprehensive assessments and care. We offer the full range of treatments for migraines, including combination drug therapy and botulinum toxin (Botox) injections. We see patients from around the world who have difficult-to-treat headache disorders, and are committed to delivering effective care with the utmost compassion and respect. When needed, our specialists work closely with other experts at UCSF, such as alternative medicine providers, to better manage migraines.

Awards & recognition

  • usnews-neurology

    Among the top hospitals in the nation

  • usnews-neurology

    Best in California and No. 2 in the nation for neurology & neurosurgery

UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.