NDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — About 39 million people in the US suffer from migraines, though some doctors believe the number is much higher since many people with migraines go undiagnosed. When a migraine happens, it can sideline you from work, family affairs and daily life. There are some early warning signs you should know and new medications on the horizon.
The throbbing and pounding effects can be debilitating.
“It’s very common in people that are in their most productive years of life. It’s one of the leading causes of disability worldwide.” Explains Teshamae Monteith, MD, Chief of the Headache Division at University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
Feeling tired can be an early warning sign of a one coming on. Having too little sleep can cause changes in proteins that help regulate the sensory response in migraines. Aiming for seven to eight hours of sleep per night is ideal for migraine sufferers. Another sign: changes in vision.
Anthony DeMaria, MD Professor of Cardiology University of California, San Diego, says “By looking at the small blood vessels in the eye, you can get a clue to the presence of disease in other parts of the body.”
As it is about to occur, you may experience blind spots or see flashing lights or auras. Taking medication as soon as you notice any of these symptoms can lessen the effects. Pain in the jaw joint is also linked to migraines. Researchers found chewing gum while you have jaw pain can make the it worse.
Cherise Irons says, “The pressure starts in my neck area, and it just keeps building and building.”
Last year, the FDA approved a medication called Qulipta and recently accepted Zavegepant for review. If this new drug is approved, it would be the only nasal spray application for the treatment of migraines.
David Kudrow, MD, Dir., Neurological Research Inst. of Southern California says, “If we can very specifically target this CGRP protein, then hopefully we can prevent the occurrence of migraines.”
A worthy goal for sure.
One more warning sign: changes in the weather. A Japanese study found three out of four sufferers reported the onset of a migraine with a drop in barometric pressure. And, a sweet tooth or change of mood are not uncommon when one swoops in according to many sufferers.
Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor
MIGRAINE WARNING SIGNS
BACKGROUND: The American Migraine Foundation estimates that at least 39 million Americans live with migraines. There are four phases of a migraine attack: prodrome, aura, headache, and postdrome. The prodrome and aura phases usually occur before the headache develops. Typical prodrome symptoms include extreme tiredness and yawning, irritability or moodiness, difficulty concentrating, and food cravings. Aura is rarer and usually begins just before the headache starts. Most people experience changes in their vision, while others notice tingling, numbness, or trouble speaking. The headache phase of an attack typically involves pain on one or both sides of the head and lasts from several hours to three days but can also include nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to lights and noises. The final phase of an attack, called postdrome, is also sometimes called the “migraine hangover” and 80 percent of people with migraines experience it. Symptoms of postdrome include fatigue, body aches, trouble concentrating, dizziness, and sensitivity to light.
DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT: To diagnose a migraine, a doctor will get a thorough medical history and establish a history of the migraine-related symptoms. They may also order blood tests and imaging tests (such as a CT scan or MRI) to make sure there are no other causes of the headache. An electroencephalogram (EEG) might be ordered to rule out seizures. Migraine headaches are chronic and can’t be cured, but they can be managed and possibly improved with two treatment approaches that use medications. Abortive medications are most effective when used at the first sign and taken while the pain is mild. By possibly stopping the headache process, abortive medications help stop or decrease migraine symptoms, including pain, nausea, and light sensitivity. Preventive (prophylactic) medications may be prescribed when headaches are severe, occur more than four times a month, and are significantly interfering with normal activities. Preventive medications reduce the frequency and severity of the headaches and are generally taken on a regular, daily basis to help prevent migraines.
POSSIBLE MIGRAINE BREAKTHROUGH: In a new development, an international group of neurologists deciphered the mystery of why people get migraines. The study determined how to greatly reduce the frequency and severity. The researchers found that blocking the chemical signals, which they named calcitonin gene-related peptides (CGRP), can abort a migraine. This is what monoclonal antibodies, or CGRP antagonists, do. Dr. Sandhya Mehla, a headache specialist and vascular neurologist with Hartford HealthCare Medical Group, called the discovery “a milestone” because it led to “the first medications that were specifically designed and tested only for migraine.” In the past, doctors have had to treat their patients with medications that were developed for other medical conditions. “Migraine is in our genes, so it really cannot be cured,” Mehla said. However, doctors are optimistic with more research that these new medications will help reduce the frequency.
* For More Information, Contact:
Free weekly e-mail on Medical Breakthroughs from Ivanhoe. To sign up: http://www.ivanhoe.com/ftk