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Keywords:

  • Epidemiology migraine with aura;
  • migraine without aura;
  • symptomatology

The clinical characteristics of migraine without aura (MO) and migraine with aura (MA) were compared in 484 migraineurs from the general population. We used the criteria of the International Headache Society. The lifetime prevalence of MO was 14.7% with a M:F ratio of 1:2.2; that of MA was 7.9% with a M:F ratio of 1:1.5. The female preponderance was significant in both MO and MA. The female preponderance was present in all age groups in MA, but was first apparent after menarche in MO, suggesting that female hormones are an initiating factor in MO, but not likely so in MA. The age at onset of MO followed a normal distribution, whereas the age at onset of MA was bimodally distributed, which could be explained by a composition of two normal distributions. The estimated separation between the two groups of MA was at age 26 years among the females and age 31 years among the males. The observed number of persons with co-occurrence of MO and MA was not significantly different from the expected number. The specificity and importance of premonitory symptoms are questioned, but prospective studies are needed. Bright light was a precipitating factor in MA, but not in MO. Menstruation was a precipitating factor in MO, but not likely in MA. Both MO and MA improved during pregnancy. The clinical differences indicate that MO and MA are distinct entities.