WHAT ARE MIGRAINES?
Migraines are a common disorder of painful, debilitating pain localized to one side of the head. They have been known to last up to 72 hours (1). Some warning signs before a migraine begins are flashes of light, blind spots, or a tingling on one side of the body. With large amounts of data that links migraines to trigger factors, it is clear that migraines require activation of meningeal nociceptors to exert a powerful effect on the sensory neurons (2,3).
Furthermore, according to the World Health Organization, migraines are one of the most globally prevalent reasons for medical care (4). It has been reported that the number of cases of migraines are higher in women than in men around the world (4). Overall, there are many studies that have analyzed the way that migraines have affected the quality of people’s lives as well as the disabilities migraine patients may have (5).
RISK FACTORS OF MIGRAINES
- Stress: There is a complex relationship between migraines and stress. Studies have shown that 50% to 80% of patients who report stress symptoms have also reported migraines attacks (6,7).
- Changes in levels of hormones: Migraine attacks are more prevalent in women than in men. Furthermore, natural changes that occur in women such as changes in endogenous sex hormones and exogenous sex hormones, are also known to trigger migraine attacks (8).
- Dietary products: A range of 12% to 60% of patients who have reported a migraine that was triggered by a specific food or combination of foods. Dietary products such as chocolate, cheese, and alcohol are the top three that were found to be triggers of migraine attacks (9).
- Environmental changes: Migraines are also known to be caused by environmental triggers such as bright sunlight or flickering of lights. Furthermore, patients who have suffered a migraine attack, also describe air quality and odors as triggers for a migraine (10).
- Genetic Factors: Family and twin studies have shown that there is a genetic linking to migraines, but studies have not been able to identify which gene is predisposing to the development of the disease (11,12).
SYMPTOMS OF MIGRAINES
- Nausea: Experienced by one-third of the patients who are experiencing or have experienced migraines (13)
- Vomiting (14)
- Hypersensitivity to light and sound (15,16)
For more information on migraines and diagnosis: 1. Talk to your doctor 2. Visit the Migraine Research Foundation website 3. Visit the Mayo Clinic website 4. Visit the American Migraine Foundation website
FACTS AND STATISTICS ON MIGRAINES
According to the 2012 Global Burden of Disease study, migraine is the 8th most burdensome disease in the world (17). In 2012, data reports showed that 14.2% of adults in the United States who were 18 years or older reported having a migraine (18). Research shows that migraines affect females up to 3 times more than males (19,20).
In 2015, 20.0% of women and 9.7% of men, 18 years and older reported a severe headache or migraine within 3 months of the survey. For both sexes, reports of severe headaches or migraines decreased with increased age. Of men in the age groups 18 to 44 years old, 11% reported a severe headache or migraine, while only 3.4% reported severe headaches or migraines in the group over 75 years old. Of women in the age groups 18 to 44 years old, 24.7% reported a severe headache or migraine, while only 6.3% reported severe headaches or migraines in the group over 75 years old (21).
MEDICAL TREATMENT OF MIGRAINES
Preventative treatments and drugs can only be used on patients where there is a known headache trigger (22).
- Tricyclic antidepressants: This anti-depressant is one of the most common ones used for migraine prevention. Furthermore, it is also the only known anti-depressant that has been fully proven to work towards the prevention of future migraine attacks (22). Common side effects include blurred vision, dry mouth, constipation, weight gain or loss, low blood pressure on standing, rash, hives, and increased heart rate (23).
- Antiepileptic drugs: This type of drug is known for its mechanism of inhibiting or blocking gated sodium channels in neural processes (24).
- Gabapentin (22)
- Valproic Acid (25)
- Lamotrigine (26)
- Angiotensin (27)
- Histamines (28,29)
NATURAL WAYS TO HELP ALLEVIATE HEAD PAIN
Practices to Help Alleviate Head Pain:
- Changes in lifestyle to help to reduce triggers like food triggers (30)
- Proper management of headaches, depression, anxiety, pain syndromes and other conditions (30)
- Stress management (31)
Natural Supplements That Help Alleviate Head Pain:
- Feverfew Leaf (32,33)
- Butterbur (34,35)
- White Willow Bark (36)
- Magnesium Citrate (37,38)
- CoQ10 (39,40)
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