New Treatments for Migraines

Written by AnaLise on November 20, 2008 – 8:21 am -


If you are reading this, you have probably had at least one migraine headache, and most likely many more and on a regular basis.  We know how overpowering and debilitating they are.  We also know that it is not always easy to find treatment or relief from these headaches.

There is now some good news about migraine treatment.  Alan Rapoport, a professor of neurology at U.C.L.A., who has studied headaches for the past 35 years, says that there are some “exciting” new drugs coming in the near future to deal with migraines. 

The cause of migraines is not clear.  There are various ideas regarding migraine causes as well as some of the effects.  One main thing that ties all of them together is that when a person has a migraine something called the trigeminal nerve system, which moves information from the face, head, brain and spinal cord to the brain stem – is triggered.  Researchers have determined that this happens in every migraine, no matter what the cause or trigger.

During a migraine the trigeminal nerve system releases CGRP, which is a peptide, and CGRP causes the blood vessels to enlarge and creates pain.  A lot of pain.  There is a medication being tested currently that would this process from happening.  The medication, called telcagepant and produced by Merck, is in the final stages of trials and Merck is looking for FDA approval to begin marketing the drug next year.  This is essential for migraine sufferers.  Over 55% of the people in trials who took the medication had near immediate relief, and another 23% had total relief within 2 hours. 

Triptans used to be the drugs touted to help eliminate migraines, however, because they constricted the blood vessels and could cause heart attack or stroke.  Telcagepant does not work the same way, and researchers feel that it is much safer. 

Botox is another option for some.  In addition, for migraines with aura, there are ways to stop the aura so that the migraine never happens, by using transcranial magnetic stimulation – which stops the overload of the electrical activity in the brain. 

Regardless of what can work for you, there are now more options and more kinds of options for migraine headache sufferers, including me.

Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in News | No Comments »

Dealing With Continuous Migraines

Written by AnaLise on November 20, 2008 – 7:51 am -

If you have suffered from a migraine headache every once in a while, you know that they are debilitating, they are awful and you hold your breath during an episode, then breathe a sigh of relief when they are over.  Not only do migraines pretty much wipe us out for a few hours or days, they also leave us exhausted too many times.  It often takes days after the episode in order to get back to being yourself.

Now, think of how overwhelming it would be if – instead of having a migraine every once in a while – you had a migraine regularly, monthly, weekly or even daily.  Having suffered migraines myself for many years, often on a weekly basis, I am familiar with the pain and the after effects.  You barely get your equilibrium back again when the cycle starts all over.  It messes up your work, your family and your life.

There are some ways to deal with continuous migraines.  First of all, there are newer and more advanced medications that can stop migraines as their symptoms begin, stop migraines before they begin (by taking medication regularly), and stop migraines altogether.  There are different treatments for different people.  It’s not a “one size fits all” sort of treatment. 

If you suffer from regular headaches go to the doctor and get help.  Make sure you are keeping track of symptoms.  Are there visual problems that come with them?  Nausea?  Does your neck hurt?  What was happening at work or home before the migraine that might have brought it on?  Was it extreme stress?  What did you eat or drink before the headache?  Were you tired, lethargic, having a hard time concentrating?  All of these can be precursors to migraines.

The interesting fact is that over 25% of migraine sufferers get no real warning before they start.  Many migraine sufferers suffer in silence, sometimes for years.  When my migraines started – due to some serious health problems and hormone changes – there were not many choices of medications and both my family and the doctors – several of them – told me they were all in my head.  Only the emergency room – usually at the most inopportune time in the middle of the night – would take a look at my symptoms and feel sorry enough to use some sort of medication to knock me out for a while.

Things have changed.  There is help available.  Don’t suffer through migraine after migraine.  See a specialist.  Talk to your doctor.  Look for information on the web.  It can – and does – get better. 

Two good sites are and (click on migraines).

Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in News | No Comments »

Promise of a New Migraine Medicine

Written by AnaLise on November 14, 2008 – 7:18 am -

There is more research regarding migraine headaches now than ever before.  Studies have revealed possible links between migraines and a lower incidence of breast cancer.  Other studies have resulted in information regarding triggers that were heretofore unknown.  There have been definite connections discovered between migraines and stroke, migraines and brain issues, migraines and DNA plus genetics.

There are more medications available now including meds from triptans to seizure medications to other meds used for a number of ailments now being used to treat migraines.  Not every medication works for every person, as with any other illness.

There is now a new medication being tested that should be approved by the FDA sometime in 2009.  The medication, called telcagepant, is touted as a medication that will be tough on the debilitating symptoms of migraines.

Anyone who has ever had a migraine – or sat by helplessly as a family member or friend suffered from one – knows how painful, overwhelming and debilitating these headaches are.  Many sufferers have described these headaches as feeling like “rats inside their brain trying to chew their way out” or “hot knife or spike going through the middle or side of their brain” or “their eyeball being stabbed with a burning fire poker.”  None of these are  positive experiences, in fact, folks who have been stabbed, broken limbs, had serious back problems and other painful conditions including kidney stones, have reported that their migraine headaches were much more painful and they would deal with the pain from the other injuries any day rather than cope with a migraine.

Nonetheless, the good news is that research continues and more treatments are being discovered almost daily.  Hopefully telcagepant will become the medication that truly gets a lot of migraines under control, or just helps them disappear.

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in News | No Comments »

Impact of Migraines on Families

Written by AnaLise on November 10, 2008 – 11:22 am -

We often address issues that migraine sufferers have tot deal with.  They are numerous and they are debilitating.  The pain, the nausea, the sight issues and more can be – and usually are – overwhelming. 

As someone who has suffered from migraines, I can tell you that in addition to the physical issues, there are other issues that can be so difficult to deal with, there is frustration, sometimes depression and often guilt.  We wonder what is wrong with us that doctors can’t figure out.  Are we going to have a stroke and die?  Is the pain ever going to stop?  What am I doing wrong?  What is my family thinking or feeling?  Helpless?  Scared?  Frustrated and Angry?

These are questions we ask ourselves.  However, the makers of Maxalt, a migraine medication, has jut received the results of a survey that gives the answers as to how migraines affect families.

61% of migraine sufferers who took the survey stated that they worry about their families because they cannot take care of their responsibilities during a migraine episode, and the families must take over.  In addition, migraine sufferers cite having to miss many activities including ball games, birthdays and other special activities because of a severe migraine.  They also talk about the fact that members of the family – especially spouses – often resent the issues brought on by migraines.  In fact, there have been many marriages torn apart, ending in divorce because of one or both spouses having difficulty dealing with migraines.

Another issue that came up a lot was the feeling of helplessness that family members have in watching their parent or sibling suffering and not being able to do anything to make them feel better.  Over 50% of migraine sufferers have stated that the migraines – especially over the long term – have led to depression and often to thoughts of suicide. 

Because so many people suffer from migraines and many of them suffer greatly and often, it is important for them to keep trying to find the treatment – and the doctor – that can help give relief.  In addition, if you suffer from migraines and they are causing emotional issues for you and your family, think about a support group or counseling in addition to other treatment.

For information visit or

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in News | No Comments »

A Silver Lining for Migraines?

Written by AnaLise on November 10, 2008 – 11:20 am -

As anyone who has suffered even one debilitating migraine knows, these headaches can be horrible beyond description.  They have been described as everything from a hot sword going through one’s head, a vice at the back of the head, neck or eyeball that just keeps tightening, and various other descriptions of very painful experiences.  Just the descriptions alone can make most of us wince with pain at the thought of these headaches.

There may be a light at the end of the tunnel and even a silver lining regarding migraines.  The light at the end of the tunnel is that researchers are finding more ways to fight migraines, more triggers to focus on – to help people avoid them, thus eliminating these headaches – and more treatments for migraines.  Medication is better and more specific.  Gizmos and gadgets that actually work are being invented, including electromagnetic and other instruments that work on the nerves and the transmission overload that often causes migraines. 

The silver lining is one of those catch 22 situations, but it is still quite important.  Researchers think they have discovered a link between migraines and lower breast cancer.  They have recently estimated that women who suffer from migraines have about a 30% lower chance of getting breast cancer than those who do not have migraines.

Doctors and researchers attribute part of the connection between the lower incidence of breast cancer and high incidence of migraines to the fluctuation in hormones that can be involved in both issues.  The cancers that are being prevented are estrogen sensitive, so researchers are working hard to provide a link between the hormones, migraines and low breast cancer percentages.

Though his is the silver lining and excellent news, researchers are reminding us that these are very preliminary findings.  There will be more research to come.


Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in News | No Comments »