What Is a High Frequency Migraine?

Medically Reviewed on 5/25/2022
all frequencies of migraine
If you get 10 to 15 migraines each month, you have HFEM.

A patient is diagnosed with high-frequency migraine if they experience 10 to 15 (or more) headache days per month.

People who have frequent migraine attacks have an impairment and a worse quality of life, just as people who have chronic migraine. However, attack intensity, mental comorbidities, and analgesic usage differ between high-frequency episodic migraine and chronic migraine.

Causes of high frequency migraine

Headaches are often caused by certain nerves in your blood vessels sending frequent pain signals to your brain. This allows inflammatory molecules into your nerves and blood vessels, resulting in a migraine episode.

It's unknown what triggered your nerves to act in this manner. In the case of high-frequency episodic migraine (HFEM), a variety of triggers may increase the frequency and severity of your migraine episodes.

14 causes/risk factors/triggers of high-frequency migraine

  1. Anxiety
  2. Hormonal changes in women
  3. Bright or flashing lights
  4. Loud noises
  5. Strong smells
  6. Medicines
  7. Too much or not enough sleep
  8. Sudden changes in weather or environment
  9. Too much physical activity or exercise
  10. Tobacco
  11. Caffeine or caffeine withdrawal
  12. Skipped meals
  13. Medication overuse
  14. Food allergies

How is high frequency migraine diagnosed?

If you get 10 to 15 migraines each month, you have HFEM. To rule out other reasons for your discomfort besides migraine, your doctor may also request blood tests and imaging tests such as magnetic resonance imaging and a computed tomography scan.

Your doctor may advise you to keep a migraine notebook in which you record the hours, dates, and symptoms before, during, and after an episode. This can assist your doctor in making an accurate diagnosis.

Treatment options for high frequency migraine

There is no treatment for migraine. However, certain prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medications can help you manage your symptoms and keep the illness under control. 

If your HFEM discomfort is mild to moderate, OTC pain relievers can help you manage it when necessary.

5 OTC medications for high-frequency migraine

  1. Acetaminophen
  2. Aspirin
  3. Caffeine
  4. Ibuprofen
  5. Naproxen

Rebound headaches can occur as a result of medication usage. Inform your doctor if you use OTC medicine more than two or three times a week. They may be able to recommend more effective alternatives.

8 prescription medication groups for high-frequency migraine

Several prescription medication groups can help you control symptoms and enhance your quality of life during severe migraine attacks, such as:

  1. Triptans
  2. Calcium channel blockers
  3. Calcitonin gene-related peptide monoclonal antibodies
  4. Beta-blockers
  5. Antidepressants
  6. Anti-seizure drugs
  7. Corticosteroids
  8. Phenothiazines

Even if you are taking migraine medication, you may have breakthrough pain. If you have HFEM, you may experience migraine for up to half of every month, which can severely disrupt your daily activities.


Who suffers more frequently from migraine headaches? See Answer

9 home remedies for high frequency migraine

A few tried-and-true natural remedies can help relieve migraine pain and frequency. Consider the following natural alternatives (supported by research):

  1. Take a nap
    • Sleep disruption has been associated with an increased risk of HFEM.
    • Fortunately, a quick nap during the day can relieve your discomfort, and it shouldn't interfere with your bedtime.
    • Researchers discovered that naps were beneficial for migraine relief while not affecting nocturnal sleep. 
    • If possible, limit your sleep to under an hour long and take it earlier in the day rather than late in the afternoon.
  2. Cool your neck
    • Cold therapy has long been considered the most effective self-care treatment for HFEM. 
    • A cold compress over the eyelids is one option, but according to a study, cooling your neck may be even more helpful. 
    • An adjustable wrap with two ice packs placed on the carotid arteries on the sides of the neck provided great comfort to many patients in a recent clinical experiment. 
    • Rotate out the packs carefully, in 15-minute increments.
  3. Acupressure
    • Acupressure can aid with pain and nausea relief.
    • Research that looked at places on the body associated with relief discovered that pressure on one spot designated PC6 (about three fingers up from the base of the wrist, on the inside of the arm) was useful in lowering migraine-related nausea
    • Another research reported that a month of acupressure was just as effective as muscle relaxant drugs at reducing pain.
  4. Hydration
    • Dehydration is a major cause of HFEM attacks. This is especially true during the cooler months when you might not think about drinking water as much.
    • It is always vital to drink water regularly. Drinking more water daily is associated with reduced migraine intensity, frequency, and duration. 
    • Track your water intake to discover whether decreased consumption is a trigger for you.
  5. Consume healthy fat
    • Choose foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, walnuts, chia seeds, and tuna.
    • According to a study on dietary treatments for migraine, consuming foods high in omega-3 fatty acids regularly may reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines
    • Healthy fats increase brain function. Adding foods high in good fats to your diet is beneficial for migraine prevention.
  6. Manage stress
    • Exercise can be beneficial.
    • Going for a stroll in the fresh air might be useful.
    • Deep breathing and exercise are effective combos for pain relief.
    • Yoga is another alternative, and evidence shows that it might help migraine sufferers reduce pain frequency and intensity. This is because yoga helps reduce stress, which is another migraine trigger.
  7. Essential oils
    • The relaxing perfume of lavender may be found in a variety of items ranging from pillow sprays to lotions to bubble baths. It turns out that fragrance can also affect your HFEM symptoms. 
    • The research discovered that those who had regular migraine attacks experienced considerable alleviation from severe symptoms when they breathed lavender essential oil at 30-minute intervals.
    • Another research discovered comparable outcomes when the aroma of basil essential oil was used.
  8. Limit screen time
    • Another recognized factor is excessive screen time. Greater levels of screen exposure were connected with migraine frequency.
    • The combination of strong light and probable eye strain may aggravate a migraine.
    • Additionally, if you're gazing down at a gadget, you may have neck strain, which might aggravate your pain.
    • There's no need to shun screens and devices entirely but turn them off if you sense a migraine coming on.
  9. Meditation
    • Regular mindfulness practice can help you reduce the frequency of migraine attacks and manage the discomfort when they do occur.

If you have HFEM, your migraine attacks are more likely to proceed to chronic migraine. According to experts, persons with HFEM progress to chronic migraine at a rate of 2.5 percent every year. This might hurt your quality of life.

Talk to your doctor about treatment alternatives to avoid developing chronic migraine. If you are unable to function daily owing to frequent migraine episodes, consult your doctor as soon as possible.

Medically Reviewed on 5/25/2022
Image Source: iStock Image

Chronic or High-Frequency Migraines: What Are the Triggers? https://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/chronic-high-frequency-migraines-triggers

Acceptance and commitment therapy for high frequency episodic migraine without aura: Findings from a randomized pilot investigation: https://headachejournal.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/head.14139

Coping with high-frequency episodic migraine: https://invisibleproject.org/coping-with-high-frequency-episodic-migraine/