Episodic vs. Chronic Migraine – What is the Difference?

Episodic vs. Chronic Migraine – What is the Difference?

Migraine pain is often more painful and intense than other headaches. For most people, head pain is the most predominant symptom but may include a combination of symptoms, such as but not limited to: disturbed vision, sensitivity to light, sound and smells, feeling sick and vomiting. Migraines can be classified as episodic or chronic, but what differentiates the two? The difference mostly boils down to frequency.


Episodic migraine sufferers have fewer than 14 headaches per month over a span of three months. The headaches don’t necessarily need to be categorized as migraines or severe to count. Every year between 2.5 and 4.6% of people with episodic migraines experience a progression to chronic migraine.


Those who suffer from chronic migraine experience 15 or more headache days per month over a 3 month span. In addition, 8 or more headaches are migraines and can be confirmed to not be a result of medication overuse. Due to the sheer number of migraines per month, chronic migraine is extremely disabling and can take a large toll on daily life. Chronic migraine has been linked to higher unemployment and disability, due to sufferers’ frequent inability to attend work. Additionally, research has shown chronic migraine sufferers have a higher incidence of depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and higher rates of respiratory and cardiovascular issues.

Research for Episodic and Chronic Migraines

While chronic and episodic migraine are extremely painful and nearly debilitating, there is hope on the horizon. A number of research studies are now under way, exploring further options for the migraine community. Currently, Clinvest Research is enrolling individuals for both episodic and chronic migraine research studies. In order to qualify, participants will need to know how many headache days they have per month. Those who are unsure should keep a headache diary. Tracking use of pain medication will also assist in determining medication overuse.

To track your headache days, print off our headache diary from the link below:

Print a Headache Diary

Contact us about our enrolling migraine trials


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