Frequent Nausea in Episodic Migraine

Nancy Harris Bonk Health Guide
  • A Migraine attack is not just a bad headache; rather, it affects the entire body. Head pain is the most common and debilitating symptom followed closely by nausea. People with episodic Migraine (fewer than 15 headache days a month) who experience frequent nausea seem to have an increased burden in their lives according to the American Migraine Prevalence and Prevention Study (AMPP).


    The AMPP is the largest study of Migraine and headache sufferers ever conducted in the United States. Beginning in 2004, questionnaires were sent to 120,000 selected homes of which close to 163,000 Americans over the age of 12 responded. Researchers then followed 24,000 participants who had at least one severe Migraine during the previous year and met the requirements according to the International Headache Society's International Classification of Headache Disorders, 2nd edition. Episodic Migraine (EM) is defined as having fewer than 15 headache days a month.

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    Participants from the study reported headache-related nausea none of the time, rarely, less than half the time, or more half the time with headache. They were also instructed to give details of how debilitated their life was by Migraine according to MIDAS (Migraine Disability Assessment) and Headache Impact Test (HIT-6) in addition to their age, gender, race and household income.


     The results for the 6,559 participants with EM who responded included:

    • Almost half reported frequent nausea with headache.
    • Frequent nausea was more common in females than males (52% vs. 39%).
    • Those on disability or medical leave experienced frequent nausea 62%.
    • People who had a full time job experienced frequent nausea less - 46%.
    • Participants who had frequent nausea compared to people who did not experience nausea or had little nausea were twice as likely to have more disability according to the MIDAS scale and HIT-6 and four times more likely to have severe headache pain.
    • For the same participants who had EM with frequent nausea and headache, daily activities were greatly affected. They were more tired, needed to lie down more often, were more irritable and had a hard time concentrating.

    In conclusion, people with EM who experience frequent nausea with headache seemed to be worse off than those who did not. Participants "on disability" or medical leave made out far worse than those who weren't, as did females with EM. Participants with full-time jobs seemed to have a better outcomes than those who were not gainfully employed. Frequent nausea seems to be a factor in episodic Migraine, which leads to worse outcomes in those with headache. The researchers felt that this information would provide a "target  for treatment."




    Buse D.C,; Reed M.L.; Fanning K.M.; Lipton R.B. "Frequent Nausea in Episodic Migraine (EM) with Increased Burden: Results from the American Migraine Prevalance and Prevention (AMPP) Study." Poster Research. 53rd Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Headache Society, June, 2011. 

    Press Release. "New Data Underscore Nausea is Significantly Debilitating Symptom of Migraine, Potentially Impacting Millions of Patients, Particularly Women." Washington, D.C. Migraine Nausea Give Away. June 2, 2011.


  • © HealthCentral Network, 2011.
    Last updated December 27, 2011.

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Published On: December 27, 2011