What a Pain! Millions of Americans Visit ERs for Headaches

More than 3 million Americans went to hospital emergency rooms seeking relief from headaches in 2008, with 81,000 hospital admissions, according to the latest data from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

One-third of the emergency visits and two-thirds of the hospital stays were for migraines , according to the data.

The new data also revealed that:

  • Women accounted for nearly 3 out of 4 emergency department visits and hospital admissions for headaches.
  • Migraines were about 4 times more common among women than men in both the emergency department and the hospital.
  • People from the lowest-income communities were 2.3 times more likely than those from the highest-income communities to go to the emergency room for headaches (1,300 versus 565 visits per 100,000 people, respectively).
  • Rural residents were 1.6 times more likely than their urban counterparts to make emergency department visits for headaches (1,425 versus 896 visits per 100,000 people).
  • Adults ages 18 to 44 were the most likely to make emergency department visits for headache (1,626 visits per 100,000 people) and the least likely were those 18 and younger (345 visits per 100,000 people).
  • The Midwest and South led the country in emergency department visits for headache (1,158 and 1,131 per 100,000 people), compared with the Northeast's 809 visits per 100,000 and people and the West's 744 visits per 100,000 people.

The data was released this month and is based on the U.S. Hospitals and Emergency Departments study.

Pass it on: Millions of Americans go to an emergency department for headaches.

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Live Science Staff
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