Managing Migraine Headaches

Written by AnaLise on October 30, 2008 – 10:24 am -

There are over 30 million migraine sufferers in the United States and about 65% of these individuals are women.  Researchers have determined that migraines are genetic – so the majority of migraine sufferers inherit these debilitating headaches through heredity.

If your parents and/or grandparents had migraines there is nearly a 60% chance that you will have migraines. This does not mean that you are doomed to a life of migraines without help or relief.

Besides heredity, there are other causes of migraines, such as environment and serious head and neck injuries. Dr. Merle Diamond says, “A person with migraines has a more sensitive nervous system, which is extremely impacted by changes in hormones, lack of sleep, skipping meals, red wine, smoke, stress or other triggers.”   Dr. Diamond of the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago also explains, “These triggers lead to changes in the brain, which turn on the brainstem, which dilates blood vessels and causes inflammation, which causes the pain.” 

Too many migraine sufferers try over-the-counter migraine medication only to find that they don’t usually help bring relief, they actually can make migraine headaches worse.  Some of the ingredients in over-the-counter medications are actually irritants when it comes to migraines.

This doesn’t mean that there is nothing to bring relief.  Unlike 20 years ago, these days there are many prescription medications that your doctor can prescribe specifically for migraine headaches.  There are other medication that can help an individual deal with stress and other issues that may be bringing on the headaches.

The most important thing a migraine sufferer can do is seek treatment through a doctor – especially one who specializes in this area.  Don’t be a hero and ignore your symptoms.  Not only could they get worse, they could also lead to a stroke.  In addition, migraines are connected to other cardiovascular issues.

Managing your migraines is not impossible.  It may take a little time to find the right treatment and/or meds, but once you and your doctor or chiropractor are able to determine a good plan to control your symptoms, the time you took to find a way to manage your migraines will be worth it.

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New Link between Migraine and Stroke

Written by AnaLise on August 5, 2008 – 6:20 pm -

There is more research and newer information regarding migraine headaches and their causes and treatment as of late.  One of the latest studies has found a link between migraine headaches with aura and a particular gene, leading to a higher risk of stroke in many women.

The interesting part of this discovery is that researchers found that the same gene lowers the risk of migraines with aura.  If this sounds confusing, here is how it works. 

A migraine with aura is a migraine that comes on with an “aura” which includes flashing light and other visual disturbances.  This latest study has found that a particular gene MTHFR 677C keeps women from getting migraines with aura, however, if a woman has this gene and goes on to get migraines with aura anyway, her risk of having a stroke is higher than the average woman.

The study, through Harvard School of Medicine, watched 25,000 white women over 12 years, and found that 18% or 4,600 of them had migraines with aura, and of those, over 625 of the women had a cardiovascular issue such as a stroke.  When the researchers went back to see which of the women had the MTHFR 677C gene, they found that 11% of the women carried the gene.

If the gene is found alone, it does not seem to raise the risk of stroke, however in women who have a history of migraine with aura, the risk of stroke or other cardiovascular disease is raised by three times. 

Researchers are still trying to find the exact gene and figure out exactly what it does and whether it is the direct cause or an ancillary cause of stroke or other cardiovascular event.  Meanwhile, researchers recommend that women who have migraines with aura do not smoke and use alternatives to birth control pills. 

The bottom line is that if you are a woman who suffers from migraines with aura, it is important that you remain very careful about your health to avoid having a cardiovascular event or a stroke.

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