Skip Navigation Archive: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Archive: Agency for Healthcare Research Quality
Archival print banner

This information is for reference purposes only. It was current when produced and may now be outdated. Archive material is no longer maintained, and some links may not work. Persons with disabilities having difficulty accessing this information should contact us at: Let us know the nature of the problem, the Web address of what you want, and your contact information.

Please go to for current information.

Over 3 Million Look to Hospitals for Headache Relief, Particularly for Migraines

AHRQ News and Numbers, May 4, 2011

AHRQ News and Numbers provides statistical highlights on the use and cost of health services and health insurance in the United States.

More than 3 million Americans went to hospital emergency rooms seeking relief from headaches and there were 81,000 hospitals admissions, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). One third of the emergency visits and two thirds of the hospital stays were for migraine headaches.

AHRQ also found that in 2008:

  • Women accounted for nearly three out of four 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 vs. 896 visits per 100,000 people).
  • By age, people 18 to 44 years old 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 visit rates for headache (1,158 and 1,131 per 100,000 people), compared to the Northeast's 809 visits per 100,000 people and the West's 744 visits per 100,000 people.

This AHRQ News and Numbers is based on data in Headaches in U.S. Hospitals and Emergency Departments, 2008 (PDF file, 217 KB; Plugin Software Help). The report uses data from the 2008 Nationwide Inpatient Sample and from the 2008 Nationwide Emergency Department Sample—databases of hospital inpatient stays and emergency departments visits in all short-term, non-Federal hospitals. The data are drawn from hospitals that comprise 95 percent of all discharges in the United States and include patients, regardless of insurance type, as well as the uninsured.

For other information, or to speak with an AHRQ data expert, please contact Bob Isquith at or call (301) 427-1539.

Current as of May 2011
Internet Citation: Over 3 Million Look to Hospitals for Headache Relief, Particularly for Migraines: AHRQ News and Numbers, May 4, 2011. May 2011. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


AHRQ Advancing Excellence in Health Care