"I have the worst migraine."
If you've never uttered those words, chances are you've heard someone else say them. And a new study, published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, finds many migraine sufferers aren't only complaining to family, friends and colleagues -- they're also vocalizing their agonizing pain to the entire Twittersphere.
The new study analyzed a total of 21,741 migraine-related tweets to examine how people express their migraine experience via social media. After eliminating advertising and unrelated tweets that included the word migraine, they found 65 percent of migraine-related tweets were written by migraine sufferers posting in real time.
The researchers say many of their findings overlapped with results from prior clinical studies, such as when during the day migraines are most likely to occur and how the chronic condition impacts mood.
The study found 73 percent of social media-savvy migraine sufferers were women, while 17 percent were men. Typically, Monday was the worst day, with the highest global peak in migraine mentions at around 10 a.m. eastern time. In the U.S., the number of migraine tweets was highest at 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays, but on weekends tweets were sent slightly later in the morning.
The researchers also found Americans were the most vocal about their splitting headaches: 58 percent of migraine-related tweets were from the U.S., while 20 percent came from Europe. The most common descriptions used in tweets were "worst" (15 percent) and "massive" (8 percent). Approximately 44 percent of tweets reported the migraine had an immediate impact on mood.
In the U.S., nearly 1 in 4 households has at least one migraine sufferer, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. Migraine is ranked in the top 20 of the world's most debilitating health conditions, and many sufferers find these extreme headaches interfere with daily activities, including the ability to work. According to researchers of this study, 75 percent of migraine sufferers say their migraines disrupt daily life, while 30 percent find recovering from an attack requires bed rest.
Symptoms include intense throbbing pain in the head, visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, numbness and tingling, as well as extreme sensitivity to light, sound, smell and touch.
Here are a few recent and colorful tweets that seem to back up the findings:
@ kk_waters: The pounding in my head is just not fully going away. Has the office always been this bright? #migraine
@chanellejhayes I need to pull out my right eyeball, vacuum behind it, polish it, and put it back in. Always the right side of my head! Whyyyy?? #migraine
@ dolajayy Migraines are not fun! First it's the fuzzy vision then it's the loss of sight in my right eye then the crying begins #migraine #pain
@ hannahejo Yeah I am just gonna sleep here on the couch and hope a ghost comes and slips me an Advil. #migraine