Why Its Important To Seek Help
The National Headache Foundation estimates more than 37 million Americans suffer from migraine, and health experts say many spend decades dealing with the pain instead of seeking medical attention.
Theres this leftover notion that developed in the 20th century that headaches arent really a medical problem. People have been taught to dismiss , Gottschalk said. Its a sociological problem thats being imposed on what turns out to be the most common medical disorder in women.
The Food and Drug Administration has approved three over-the-counter products to treat migraine, but if those arent effective, health experts say patients may benefit from prescribed medication. These medications are most effective when taken early in an attack and can allow a patient to return to normal functioning after a few hours.
It is really absolutely amazing how many people have migraine who dont get treated until it turns into something miserable, Brandes said. Diagnosis has dramatically helped so many individuals, so its important to see someone to help you decide if now is the time to think about preventive therapy.
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How Are Migraines Treated
Migraine headaches are chronic. They cant be cured, but they can be managed and possibly improved. There are two main treatment approaches that use medications: abortive and preventive.
- Abortive medications are most effective when you use them at the first sign of a migraine. Take them while the pain is mild. By possibly stopping the headache process, abortive medications help stop or decrease your migraine symptoms, including pain, nausea, light sensitivity, etc. Some abortive medications work by constricting your blood vessels, bringing them back to normal and relieving the throbbing pain.
- Preventive medications may be prescribed when your headaches are severe, occur more than four times a month and are significantly interfering with your normal activities. Preventive medications reduce the frequency and severity of the headaches. Medications are generally taken on a regular, daily basis to help prevent migraines.
Which New Devices Are Useful In The Treatment Of Migraine
There are now four new devices that allow patients to self-administer electrical stimulation to the vagus nerve, which has proven to be effective in treating migraine and cluster headaches.
- Cefaly: This device is worn as a headband around the forehead. The headband is connected to the electrode and then to the forehead for about 20 minutes.
- GammaCore: This device uses electrodes to send signals to the vagus nerves.
- Single-pulse transcranial magnetic stimulation : This device sends a magnetic pulse that excites a part of the brain.
- Nerivio: This device transmits electrical pulses to the vagus nerve at the start of a migraine headache. It is worn on the arm.
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Home Remedies For Migraines Using Ginger
According to a 2013 study of Phytotherapy Research, ginger can prove effective in the cure of common migraines at home.
Ginger can block prostaglandins, which are chemicals promoting muscle contractions, impacting hormones and regulating inflammation in your brain’s blood vessels.
- You should drink ginger tea several times during the day till you get relief. You have to make sure that you drink it when your headache begins.
- Simply, you can chew a piece of fresh ginger root. It will also help in treating your problem and reducing symptoms such as nausea and digestive distress.
Other Ways To Know If You Have A Migraine
Some people believe fatigue or dehydration can cause a migraine, Gottschalk said. But evidence shows these symptoms may be warning signs of an oncoming migraine.
The symptoms of the first stage of a migraine, called the prodome, can be confused for a migraine trigger. Other warning signs include mood changes, neck stiffness, food cravings, fluid retention and constipation.
Its important to learn your individual warning signs, Gottschalk said.
The headache reliably causes these symptoms first before the pain starts, so recognizing those symptoms becomes an opportunity to intervene, he said. Pay attention to the warning signs, take a headache seriously, and dont let it get out of control.
Chronic migraines are defined as occurring 15 days or more in a month, health experts say. They urge Americans who experience such symptoms to see their doctor for treatment, which often involves medication.
Other strategies can help reduce stress and prevent a migraine, Gottschalk said. He recommends breathing exercises, meditation, a 30-minute walk, stretching exercises, reading a book or preparing a relaxing bath.
When a migraine gets triggered, its important to control stress, Brandes said, especially during the holidays.
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Treating Migraine Headaches Starts With Prevention
Youre probably familiar with tension headaches an aching pain or pressure that is relatively mild. A migraine, on the other hand, is intense. The pain can be so incapacitating that you cant go to school or work. Its more than just a severe headache.
Over 37 million Americans suffer from migraines, according to the American Migraine Foundation. One in four households has a member who suffers from one of the types of migraines. Women are three times more likely than men to experience the neurological condition, and children also can develop it.
Fortunately, its something primary care providers see frequently and are comfortable treating.
A migraine attack is often preceded by whats called an aura, a sensation such as a funny smell or a visual disturbance like seeing wavy lines or lights. Not all migraine sufferers experience an aura beforehand.
After the migraine begins, symptoms can include:
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Vision problems
- Nausea or vomiting
- Pulsing pain on one or both sides of the head
A migraine attack can last from a few hours to a several days. A person with symptoms for more than 15 days a month may be suffering from chronic migraines.
Migraine sufferers usually begin to experience them in their teenage years, but they can begin in childhood or middle age. Its especially important that you see a physician if you experience migraine-like symptoms later in life because it could be a sign of another illness.
What Causes Migraines?
Take A Detailed History
Accurate history taking is vitally important in the diagnosis of migraine. It is important to give patients time to describe their attacks fully , and also to clarify the history with specific questions aimed at filling out the gaps in what the patient has told you spontaneously. The diagnosis of migraine lies in the history, and that the purpose of examination is primarily to look for other problems that may be exacerbating an underlying tendency to migraine. This may in most cases be restricted to fundoscopy, inspection and palpation of the head and neck structures, and a brief screening cardiovascular and neurological examination, unless, on the basis of the history, serious intracranial or systemic pathology is suspected.
It is then useful to ascertain what treatments, current and previous, have been tried, and at what point these treatments are taken. Patients should be asked to bring a list of medications tried in the past, including doses, and be asked why these treatments were abandoned . The use of alternative or complementary therapies should also be sought.
While superficially there seems to be a lot of information required, it is almost invariably the case that patients will volunteer much of this information without being specifically asked, and it usually does not take too much time to fill out the gaps if a structured approach to the history taking is followed. If there is uncertainty, then encouraging the patient to keep a headache diary can be very useful.
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Treatment Of Menstrual Migraine
Abortive therapy for menstrual migraine is the same as for nonmenstrual migraine. Patients with frequent and severe attacks may benefit from short-term, perimenstrual use of preventive agents . Patients with menstrual and nonmenstrual migraine who are receiving continuous preventive therapy and experiencing breakthrough menstrual migraine headaches may benefit from perimenstrual elevation of the dose of the preventive medication.
Patients who do not respond to standard preventive measures may benefit from hormonal therapy. Perimenstrual estrogen supplementation with estradiol may be beneficial. A study by De Leo et al of oral contraceptive use in women with menstrual migraine without aura found that a regimen of 24 ethinyl estradiol/drospirenone pills and 4 inert pills was more effective than a regimen of 21 active pills and 7 inert pills.
Classes Of Prophylactic Drugs
The classes of medications that are effective for migraine prevention include:
Calcitonin gene-related peptide inhibitors
Antiepileptics, antidepressants, and antihypertensives may be considered initially since they are more affordable. For any of these initial prophylactic agents, prophylaxis should not be considered a failure until it has been given at the maximum tolerable dose for at least 30 days.
Antiepileptics are generally well tolerated. The main adverse effects of topiramate are weight loss and dysesthesia. Valproic acid is useful as a first-line agent. It is a good mood stabilizer and can benefit patients with concomitant mood swings. However, it can cause weight gain, hair loss, and polycystic ovary disease therefore, it may not be ideal for young female patients who have a tendency to gain weight.
Valproic acid also carries substantial risks in pregnancy it may be best suited for women who have had tubal ligation and who cannot tolerate calcium channel blockers because of dizziness. Data for other antiepileptics are limited in migraine.
Topiramate is approved in the US for migraine prophylaxis in adults and adolescents aged 12 years or older. The safety and effectiveness of topiramate in preventing migraine headaches in adolescents were established in a clinical trial of 103 participants. Frequency of migraine decreased by approximately 72% in treated patients, compared with 44% in participants receiving placebo.
Top Homeopathic Medicines For Migraine
Migraine is a disorder characterised by headache, specifically affecting one side of the head . Migraine headaches are mostly throbbing or pulsating in nature. The top-ranked homeopathic medicines for migraine are Belladonna, Glonoinum, Iris Versicolor, Epiphegus and Nux Vomica.
Common accompanying symptoms are nausea, vomiting and sensitivity to light and noise. The intensity of a migraine headache may vary from moderate to severe.
In some cases some warning symptoms may be experienced before the onset of headache or with the headache, known as an aura. The symptoms of aura may be related to vision like flashes of light or spots or different shapes before eyes and sometimes temporary loss of vision. Other symptoms of aura may relate to sensation. It include tingling or prickling sensation on face, arms or legs. Sometimes difficulty in speech may be a symptom of aura.
Take Abortive Medications To Stop Them Before They Start
The main goal or purpose of abortive therapy is to stop the attack once the process has already started. This is also called acute therapy. It is essential to take your medication as soon as you recognize your symptoms.
Once the episode has begun, if you experience nausea like I do the medications also come in nasal spray, rapidly dissolving tablets and self-injection forms. Discuss this with your doctor to determine which one you need.
The most effective thing I have found so far – as treatment for migraine headaches that works for me is taking a Naramig at the first sign an attack is coming. And then ice packs and bed.
Naramig is a Triptan from the family of abortive drugs that specifically targets serotonin. They are all similar in action and chemical structure, but I have had very different reactions to them all. Yes as you may already know – Ive been through a few to find which one works.
For more details on Triptans please click on the link.
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Other Medications Specifically Designed For The Treatment For Migraine Headaches
Acetaminophen – isometheptene-dichloralphenazone . According to the National Headache Foundation there is some research that shows this is not usually an effective treatment for migraine headache. It is also known to cause rebound headaches if taken too often.
Dihydroergotamine is available by self injection and as Nasal Spray . Ergotamine preparations are no longer available here in Australia, so they may not be in other countries either.
Ergotamine Tartrate . My body severely rejected this one on a number of occasions by vomiting it up. It comes in tablet and suppository forms. Plus the caffeine in it kept me awake and revved up for two days – no sleep – and I could still feel the pain in the background. It was fun but not very effective.
And the approved over-the-counter medications listed above.
** Please note that the medications can have very different names in different countries.
Please click herefor a complete list of migraine medications that include drugs used for other symptoms like nausea.
Some attacks may just not be aborted and might require a narcotic analgesic. These are addictive so it is recommended that they are avoided for long term chronic sufferers.
The NHF says that medications belonging to the group of Phenothiazines are non-analgesic options for treating severe migraine headaches, and for attacks lasting more than 24 hours corticosteroids may be used for their anti-inflammatory properties.
Natrum Carbonicum For Sun Headache
Other than Glonoinum, another medicine that shows quick and effective results in migraine headache from sun exposure is Natrum Carbonicum. Vertigo appears along with headache from sun exposure in such cases. The pressive headache is accompanied by cloudiness of eyes. Heat in the head and congestion may be felt. Shooting pain in the forehead also suggests use of Natrum Carbonicum.
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Attack Phase: The Headache Begins
The attack portion of a migraine can last from a few hours to several days. During this phase, youâll probably want to rest quietly and find it hard to do your normal activities.
The pain of a migraine:
- Usually begins above the eyes
- Typically affects one side of the head, but it may happen to the entire head or move from one side to the other. It may also affect the lower face and the neck.
- Tends to feel throbbing
- May throb worse during physical activity or when you lean forward
- May get worse if you move around
Other symptoms that might happen during this phase:
Fast Targeted Relief From Migraine Symptoms
IV therapy for migraines is unique in that it is capable of simultaneously delivering a blend of medications to treat the full range of migraine symptoms. The symptoms of a migraine often include severe pain, nausea, and inflammation, but a migraine infusion takes a multi-faceted approach to defeat all three.
The combination of substances provided in a migraine infusion is designed to target the specific proteins that induce a migraine event, which is something no other treatment option can accomplish.
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Whats Holding Up The Search For A Cure For Migraine
Money. Its that simple. And that difficult.
Theres not much spent in this country on migraine compared to similarly disabling conditions. The National Institutes of Health allocates about $20 million a year for migraine researchthat comes out to about 55 cents for each person with migraine. Given the costs to business, society, and to the people who endure migraine, about $260 million would be more fitting.
There may be many reasons migraine gets pushed aside. Maybe its because its usually not fatal, or its episodic, or maybe because people who have it tend not to take to the streets to advocate for it. Migraine and the people with migraine have been trivialized and stigmatized in our culture.
To make things worse, industry dont put migraine at the top of their research and development priorities because they dont see a quick return on their investment.
Physicians and other healthcare professionals who potentially could diagnose and treat migraine in their patients dont always recognize migraine or distinguish it from other headache types. If they do, they are not always well versed in treatment options. Often, the subject of migraine or head pain never comes up in a checkup visit.
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Who Is At Risk For Migraines
About 12% of Americans get migraines. They can affect anyone, but you are more likely to have them if you
- Are a woman. Women are three times more likely than men to get migraines.
- Have a family history of migraines. Most people with migraines have family members who have migraines.
- Have other medical conditions, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, sleep disorders, and epilepsy.
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Complementary And Alternative Treatments
Interest in the use of complementary and alternative medicine by headache patients is widespread. A 2002 survey showed that more than 85% of headache patients use CAM therapies and 60% felt they provided some relief. Overall, more than 70% of patients who use CAM do not tell their doctors about it.
Some CAM techniques have good scientific evidence of benefit and have been proven by studies to be effective in preventing migraine. Biofeedback and behavioral therapy should be part of the standard of care for a difficult migraine patient.
Good studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of the herb butterbur in preventing migraines. A guideline from the American Academy of Neurology and the American Headache Society recommends offering butterbur to patients with migraine to reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks . Patients on butterbur require monitoring of liver enzymes.
The AAN/AHS found moderate evidence of effectiveness for riboflavin , magnesium, and feverfew. A 3-month, randomized, controlled trial of high-dose riboflavin found that riboflavin was superior to placebo in reducing attack frequency and headache days.
A variety of other CAM techniques are not bolstered by solid scientific data, but they may be perceived to be of benefit to patients. Techniques that some patients use for headache relief include the following:
Body work – Eg, chiropractic, massage, and craniosacral therapy )
Nutritional/herbal supplements – Eg, vitamins and herbs