Remission occurs when signs and symptoms of a medical condition lessen or disappear entirely. Migraine remission is possible, but how symptoms progress can vary for each individual.

Migraine is more than just a bad headache. It’s a neurological condition that causes intense throbbing or pulsating pain in your head. Migraine is often accompanied by other physical symptoms such as:

  • nausea
  • sensitivity to light and sound
  • visual changes
  • mood fluctuations

There are different types of migraine, and symptoms can vary for each person. Many migraine episodes can cause moderate to severe pain and may last between 4 and 72 hours.

Episodic and chronic migraine are two common types of migraine. Episodic migraine is defined as having 14 or fewer headache days per month. Chronic migraine is defined as having headaches on 15 or more days per month for more than 3 months. At least eight of those headaches per month must meet migraine criteria.

Migraine can improve with treatment for many people, but it’s also possible for symptoms to naturally improve or change over time. If migraine becomes less frequent or less severe, it’s known as partial remission.

Full remission, sometimes called clinical remission, occurs when you become symptom-free for at least 1 year.

Migraine remission is possible for some people. Effective treatments, as well as the natural course of migraine over a lifetime, can lead to a reduction in symptom severity and headache frequency.

The exact prevalence of migraine remission isn’t clear. Older estimates suggest that 10% of people eventually experience full remission, while approximately 3% reach partial remission.

More recent population-based data from 2023, which categorizes both full and partial remission under “inactive migraine,” indicates that 16.5% of women and 7.1% of men globally report inactive migraine by the age of 60 years.

Remission is possible even if you’re living with chronic migraine. Migraine progression isn’t necessarily linear, meaning it can fluctuate unpredictably over time. It’s important to note that progression of a condition doesn’t always mean your symptoms will worsen. Progression simply means that there’s a change in disease course as time goes on.

According to a review article from 2020, approximately 26% of people living with chronic migraine experience a remission to episodic migraine within 2 years.

Migraine can progress from episodic to chronic. In fact, most people with chronic migraine start with episodic migraine initially. That doesn’t mean everyone living with episodic migraine will eventually develop chronic migraine, though.

Certain factors are associated with an increased chance of migraine becoming chronic, including:

  • experiencing a higher number of headaches
  • overusing medication
  • living with depression
  • cutaneous allodynia (a pain sensitivity disorder)
  • obesity (body mass index 30 or more)

Genetics, lifestyle habits, and environmental factors may also predispose you to progression from episodic to chronic migraine. Migraine episodes may become more frequent, for example, if you’re regularly exposed to personal triggers such as strong odors, stress, or frequent weather changes.

People with migraine can achieve full remission — a prolonged period of time without symptoms. A full remission is not the same as a cure.

Currently, there’s no cure for migraine. A cure is a treatment that restores your health completely. If you’ve been cured of a condition, a doctor can say with certainty that your symptoms won’t return.

Full remission can last years. It’s also possible you’ll never experience symptoms ever again. Even if full remission lasts a lifetime, however, there’s no way to know, beyond a doubt, when or if your symptoms will return.

For some people, migraine frequency and severity can improve with age. This might be partially due to how headache triggers change as you move through childhood to adulthood and into advanced age.

If stress during school was a major migraine trigger, for example, the absence of that type of stress later in life could mean you experience fewer migraine episodes. Hormones are another example of a trigger that changes with age.

Many (though not all) people who go through menopause report fewer migraine episodes due to age-related hormone shifts.

Age itself may also gradually improve migraine for yet unknown reasons. Older research from 2011 found both men and women appear to experience a steady increase in migraine remission rates starting at 30 years of age and continuing through age 60 and beyond.

Not everyone will outgrow migraine, but there’s a possibility your symptoms will naturally improve as you get older.

Migraine is a neurological condition that can cause intense head pain and a variety of physical symptoms. As a condition with unpredictable progression, migraine can get better or worse throughout the course of a lifetime.

If your symptoms become less severe or less frequent, this is called partial remission. If you’re symptom-free for a prolonged period of time, it’s known as full remission.

It’s possible to achieve migraine remission through effective treatment and naturally as the condition progresses and changes.