Migraines are not just your average headaches. They can be debilitating, come unexpectedly, and be accompanied by a varied range of upsetting effects, such as extreme nausea, cognitive impairment, and eyesight disturbances. We have investigated the best ways of dealing with them.
Migraines are severe headache attacks that can last for between 4 and 72 hours. They are often accompanied by severe nausea and vomiting, acute sensitivity to light and sounds, and, in some cases, by temporary cognitive impairment and allodynia, which is when normal touch is felt as painful.
Individuals can start experiencing migraines from childhood, and their prevalence increases well into adulthood, until age 35 to 39. Migraines are up to
1. Prescription and over-the-counter drugs
A range of over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription drugs are used to manage migraines. These include:
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs(NSAIDs). These are common OTC drugs and include aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid), ibuprofen, diclofenac, and naproxen. They are by far the most widely used type of medication in the case of migraines, partly because they are readily available and inexpensive, but also because they are effective in both mild and moderate attacks. Triptans. These are serotonin receptor agonists, which, as their name suggests, selectively activate serotonin receptors. Low levels of serotoninare sometimes believed to be one of the causes behind migraine attacks. Triptans are occasionally prescribed to regulate that imbalance, but they are not effective in all cases.
- Ergotamine. This is a chemical that can provide immediate pain relief. The drug is usually prescribed only to people who experience migraines infrequently, or whose attacks go on for a long time. Ergotamine is a vasoconstrictor, meaning that it causes blood vessels to become narrower. As such, it can have unpleasant cardiovascular side effects, so it is not recommended to people who experience migraines often.
Antiemetics. Since severe nausea and vomiting affect most people who experience migraines, antiemetic agents, or drugs that counter the sensation of nausea, are often prescribed.
Specialists advise that medication taken to relieve migraine "should be taken as early as possible after the onset of [an attack]" to maximize effectiveness.
Preventive drugs are also sometimes prescribed to people who experience migraines, though these are generally symptomatic and are better adapted to coexisting conditions, rather than to migraine itself.
These may include, on a case-by case basis,
2. Dietary supplements
Supplements are often used for migraine prevention, especially since they are more easily available and do not have as many
Some of the supplements that have been found to help with migraines are:
Coenzyme Q10. It seems that coenzyme Q10, when taken alongside other preventive medication, is effective in reducing both the severity and the frequency of migraine attacks. Riboflavin, or vitamin B-2. Recent researchsuggests that this dietary supplement can act as a neuroprotective agent, safeguarding brain function and structure, and it can be effective in reducing the painfulness of migraine headaches.
- Magnesium. This is a mineral that plays a
key rolein many processes that take place in the body, including metabolism and the regulation of blood pressure. Some studiessuggest that various kinds of magnesium supplementation are beneficial in reducing migraine intensity and frequency, though not allresearchers agree.
- Melatonin. This is a hormone that regulates states of sleep and wakefulness in animals, and guards against oxidative stress - which is a process that can lead to cell damage and death - in plants. Some research suggests that it can be effective in migraine prevention and can be more beneficial than other preventive drugs as it has fewer side effects.
Butterbur. This refers to extracts from the root of the butterbur plant (Petasites hybridus), which is common in Europe and some parts of North America and Asia. A number of studiessuggest that butterbur is effective in preventing migraine, but some specialists urge that this dietary supplement should be treated with caution.
3. 'Neuromodulation' therapy
"Neuromodulation" therapy works by stimulating the brain or spinal chord to promote or suppress various functions of the central nervous system. Sometimes, the stimuli are delivered using implanted devices.
This kind of therapy is more often used to treat chronic illnesses that inflict severe pain or seizures.
Two types of neuromodulation therapy are now approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Meditation is increasingly explored as a way of relieving stress and pain, as Medical News Today have reported. Research suggests that meditation - spiritual meditation, in particular - can improve tolerance to pain in the case of migraines.
The study worked with participants who were dealing with migraine in their day-to-day lives. They were randomly assigned to practice one of four meditation types or relaxation techniques: spiritual meditation, internally focused secular meditation, externally focused secular meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation.
It was found that the people involved in spiritual meditation experienced migraine attacks less frequently and had a strengthened pain tolerance threshold.
MNT have also previously reported on studies that suggested that acupuncture could be an effective alternative treatment for chronic pain. A recent
This seems to support
Do you experience migraines frequently? If so, how do they affect your lifestyle, and what are some approaches you take to cope with them? Do you follow traditional or nontraditional therapy to treat or prevent attacks? Let us know what your coping strategies are, and if there are any therapies you would like to know more about.