Sunday, June 10, 2012

Migraines - a real headache to treat!

If you think you've had a migraine headache, you probably haven't because migraine headaches are so bad that you'd never be in any doubt that you've had one. With a Classic Migraine, not only do you get a crashing, one sided headache, but you often get a "visual disturbance" - such as spots before the eyes or partial loss of vision -, you can't bear to be in the light and often you vomit too: so all in all, they're awful!

But not all Migraines are classic and often it will take an expert to determine whether you are a migraine sufferer or not as there are no specific blood tests to say "yes or no" to a diagnosis. It is however, more common to suffer from them if a family member also suffers from them too. For most people when they get a migraine headache, all they want to do is to crawl into a darkened room and lie down until it passes. For most this may be for a few hours, but for some the hell can last a lot longer so it is very important to know that things can be done to help settle them or even better, to prevent them.

But the news here is not that great. For migraine attacks there is a group of medications known as Triptans - but these are not often used/made available to patients in some European countries, hence only 10% (Denmark) to 35% (France) of migraine patients use Triptans. These medications are seen as "rescue" medications that should be an essential tool in helping to stop a Migraine in its tracks. And for those who suffer frequent migraines and who should be using preventative medications, the news is not much better: drugs such as propranolol, valproate, topiramate, where you'd anticipate seeing a response of at least a 50% reduction in migraine frequency, in reality this is more likely to be around a 40-50% reduction. And preventative treatment is further compromised because people often stop these medications because of side effects or just poor compliance.

In view of the fact that about 2% of the adult population are thought to suffer from migraines, there seems to be a huge opening for effective rescue and preventative medications for this crippling condition. I hope there is someone listening ....

Ampersands & angle brackets need to be encoded.


Anonymous said...

Mom suffered badly from migraine. She would take to her bed for a week or more and no noise was tolerated in the house. She seemed to start to "grow out of" it when she hit menopause. My sister in law never had a migraine until she hit menopause. I've often wondered what role hormones played. Fortunately, I've never had one (migraine that is, lol).

Mariodacatsmom said...

My husband suffered with them greatly too, but now that he is elderly, he hasn't had one in about 10 years. He's probably on so many other drugs that they have drowned out the Migraines. He always had to go to bed in a darkened room, put a washrag over his eyes, and a few times even rubbed Ben Gay on his forehead, claiming it did help.