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Key Information About Migraine

Srikanth is passionate about helping people improve their quality of life.

Overview

Migraine is characterized by severe, continuous pain in the head, often with vomiting and difficulty in seeing.

Harvard Medical School defines it as: "Migraine is a very common, but very particular, type of headache. Most people who have migraines experience repeated attacks of headaches that occur over many years. The typical migraine headache is throbbing or pulsating and often is associated with nausea and changes in vision. While many migraine headaches are severe, not all severe headaches are migraines, and some episodes can be quite mild."

Half to three quarters of adults aged 18–65 years in the world had headache in the year 2015. Among those individuals, 30 percent or more reported migraine.

Chronic migraine affects an estimated 1.4 percent-2.2 percent of people worldwide, with a preponderance of cases in women (1.7 percent-4.0 percent) compared to men (0.6 percent-0.7 percent).

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Causes

Key lifestyle factors that can impact migraine are sleep routines, exercise, diet, hydration, and stress.

Migraine headaches may be caused in part by changes in the level of a body chemical called serotonin.

One aspect of migraine pain theory explains that migraine pain happens due to waves of activity by groups of excitable brain cells.

Other triggers of this disorder are alcohol, allergic reactions, foods like fermented foods, dairy products, citrus fruit, avocado, bananas, foods that contain MSG, nitrates or tyramine, hormonal fluctuations associated with menopause, birth control and menstrual cycles, loud noise, sweet treats, bright light and strong smells, and smoking,

“Migraines are an inherited headache disorder,” said Dr. Kathleen Digre, who specializes in headaches and neuro-ophthalmology at the John A. Moran Eye Center.

Migraines are more prevalent in working-age people.

A 2022 study in over 100,000 patients pinpointed 123 different genes associated with migraine, 86 of which were previously unknown.

"My biggest trigger is precipitation. This is unfortunate because as a ‘control freak’ I like to control a lot of things—and the weather is one thing I can’t change. Spring and summer are crummy seasons to deal with this as a trigger because it tends to rain a lot during the warmer months, especially where I live in Washington, D.C.," said 27-year-old Savannah H, a migraine patient.

Many people with migraine avoid chocolate at all times because they are worried it may trigger the painful condition, however this is not always the case.

— Migraine Association of Ireland

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Symptoms

Throbbing headache, sensitivity to light and noise, nausea, vomiting and lethargy are some common symptoms of migraine.

"Migraine is a specific neurological disease of which headache is a symptom," Huma Sheikh, MD, a board-certified neurologist who specializes in migraine and complex headaches, told POPSUGAR.

“During a flare, all people want to do is lie in a cold dark room and not do anything,” says Adnan Asger Ali, a physiotherapist and the deputy national chair at Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Australia.

I had never experienced anything like it before. It suddenly felt like I had what I call kaleidoscope eyes. And then a pounding headache started with nausea. I also began to feel a sort of brain freeze that wouldn’t end.

— Kristin Dawn Chenoweth, American actress and singer

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Treatment

Migraine is a complicated disease to treat because nobody fully understands what is happening when an individual has a migraine attack.

It is usually treated with a combination of preventive medications and pain relievers.

Taking painkillers for headaches and migraine is becoming as common as breaking out the ART test kit these days.

OTC medicines are effective for some people with mild to moderate migraines. The main ingredients in pain-relieving medications are ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminophen, naproxen, and caffeine.

Zavegepant (formerly vazegepant) is an intranasal and oral, third generation, small molecule calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) receptor antagonist, being developed by Biohaven Pharmaceuticals, under a license from Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), for the prevention and treatment of chronic and episodic migraine.

Oral medications are more effective when taken early in the attack. Non-oral administration routes (e.g. anal suppositories, where the tablet is inserted into the rectum) may be more appropriate if treatment is administered during an acute attack.

RELAXaHEAD, a smartphone-based relaxation app may help reduce the frequency of headaches in people suffering from migraine.

Findings of a research study, published in Neurotherapeutics, provide preliminary evidence that psilocybin could provide long-lasting therapeutic benefits to migraine sufferers.

A research study conducted in 2021 provided evidence supporting the use of atogepant as a preventive therapy for migraines.

The Theranica’s Nerivio device, an electronic, wearable medical device that was developed in Israel has been shown to significantly reduce pain and other debilitating symptoms after two hours in patients with chronic migraines, according to a study published in October 2021 in the peer-reviewed journal Pain Reports.

There are various home remedies. I found this to be effective:

Make a paste by adding water to cinnamon powder. Keep it on your forehead for around 20 minutes. Pain should reduce. Do not use this remedy if you are allergic to cinnamon.

In 2021, a research study published in the 'BMJ Case Reports Journal' revealed that plant-based diet that is rich in magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids eases migraine severity.

A 60-year-old man had severe, day-long migraines for 12 years and nothing worked. His doctors say they vanished (within three months) after they prescribed leafy greens and cutting out red meat.

This is according to a case study published on November 18 2021 by BMJ Case Reports.

OnabotulinumtoxinA, or Botox, was approved in 2010 for adults who get chronic migraines.

Migraine is extremely important to employers because if you think about migraine headaches, they effect people basically between age 25 and 55–prime age group for workers. Eighteen percent are women, about 6% are men, and it has significant impacts on on-the-job productivity, or so-called presenteeism, as well as direct costs, [like] medical costs [and] pharmacy costs. So, it’s an exceedingly important medical condition for employers.

— Wayne Burton, MD, former global corporate medical director for American Express

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Prevention

Many treament options are available for migraine prevention. Developing customized treatment strategies for patients is essential.

The FDA has approved several drugs for migraine prevention, including divalproex sodium, topiramate, propranolol, timolol, and methysergide.

A course of acupuncture consisting of at least six treatment sessions can be a valuable option for people with migraine.

Yoga is a good way to ensure that you stay healthy and can prevent problems like migraine headaches.

Yoga releases endorphins in the body, which reduce pain. It also helps to manage stress better, which reduces triggers for migraine.

Ensure that you sleep well. Lack of sleep can trigger migraines. Follow a proper schedule; go to sleep at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. Make sure you sleep for at least seven hours a day.

Expert Says

'Lifestyle risk factors trigger migraines. Keeping a migraine diary can help you find out what your triggers are, it can be light, sound, food, or environmental triggers like sunlight, pollution, humidity, or even your hormones.

Even after avoiding all this, if you still have a migraine, you need medicines to control it. If there is difficulty in controlling then you go on to the next level of tests and other interventions," says Dr Sivarajan Thandeswaran, senior consultant; Stroke & Neurovascular Medicine.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Srikanth R

Comments

Srikanth R (author) on April 08, 2019:

Thank you for your valuable input. This is something that people can work on.

Liz Westwood from UK on April 08, 2019:

Migraines are a debilitating condition. I found improving office lighting helped.

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