The typical migraine headache is unilateral and pulsating, lasting from 4 to 72 hours; symptoms include nausea, vomiting, photophobia (increased sensitivity to bright light), and hyperacusis (increased sensitivity to noise); approximately one third of people who suffer migraine headache perceive an aura - visual, olfactory - announcing the headache.
Initial treatment is with analgesics for the head-ache, an anti-emetic for the nausea, and the avoidance of triggering conditions. The cause of migraine headache is unknown; the accepted theory is a disorder of the serotonergic control system, as PET scan has demonstrated the aura coincides with diffusion of cortical depression consequent to increased blood flow (up to 300% greater than baseline). There are migraine headache variants, some originate in the brainstem (featuring intercellular transport dysfunction of calcium and potassium ions) and some are genetically disposed.
Studies of twins indicate a 60 to 65 per cent genetic influence upon their developing propensity to migraine headache. Moreover, fluctuating hormone levels indicate a migraine relation: 75 percent of adult patients are women, although migraine affects approximately equal numbers of prepubescent boys and girls; propensity to migraine headache is known to disappear during pregnancy.
Brain Circuitry, Immobilizing Headaches
The Best Ways to Handle a Stubborn Headache Epoch Times - April 5, 2016
When you have a headache, do you immediately reach for a bottle of painkillers? Next time, take a moment first to figure out exactly what type of headache you actually have. That's because the most common types of headaches actually have very different causes, and will respond best to very different treatments. By far the most common causes of headaches are simple lack of self-care, such as fatigue or dehydration. For these headaches, the most effective natural remedy is simply to eat a banana and drink a lot of water. That will often provide enough immediate relief to address other underlying problems, like lack of sleep. But if your headache does not respond to water, food or rest, you may have one of the following common headache types instead.'
Here's How To Stop A Migraine Before It Destroys Your Whole Day Huffington Post - July 16, 2015
1. Identify triggers and then avoid them.
2. Regulate stress and sleep.
3. Ask about vitamin supplements
4. Get prescription medication
5. Consider surgical procedures
Migraine sufferers 'may benefit from magnet therapy' BBC - January 22, 2014
A magnet device can be used to treat some types of migraine, new UK guidance advises. The watchdog NICE says although there is limited evidence, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) may help ease symptoms in some patients. It says that the procedure is still relatively new and that more data is needed about its long-term safety and efficacy. But it may be useful for patients for whom other treatments have failed.
Sex Matters in Migraines Scientific American - October 7, 2013
Halos, auras, flashes of light, pins and needles running down your arms, the sudden scent of sulfur - many symptoms of a migraine have vaguely mystical qualities, and experts remain puzzled by the debilitating headaches' cause. Researchers at Harvard University, however, have come at least one step closer to figuring out why women are twice as likely to suffer from chronic migraines as men. The brain of a female migraineur looks so unlike the brain of a male migraineur, asserts Harvard scientist Nasim Maleki, that we should think of migraines in men and women as different diseases altogether.
A migraine may change your brain CNN - August 29, 2013
Some 37 million Americans suffer from migraines, those incredibly painful and often debilitating headaches. While they've been known to knock a person out, migraines weren't thought to permanently affect the brain - until now. A new study published Wednesday in the journal Neurology suggests migraines may indeed leave a mark.
Migraines Associated With Variations in Structure of Brain Arteries Science Daily - July 29, 2013
The network of arteries supplying blood flow to the brain is more likely to be incomplete in people who suffer migraine, a new study by researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania reports. Variations in arterial anatomy lead to asymmetries in cerebral blood flow that might contribute to the process triggering migraines. The arterial supply of blood to the brain is protected by a series of connections between the major arteries, termed the "circle of Willis" after the English physician who first described it in the 17th century. People with migraine, particularly migraine with aura, are more likely to be missing components of the circle of Willis.
'Aura Migraines' May Increase Women's Heart Attack Risk Live Science - January 16, 2013
Women whose migraine headaches are accompanied by flashes of light or other changes in vision, called aura, may be at increased risk for a heart attack, a new study suggests. Among women in the study who said they experienced migraines with aura, the rate of cardiovascular events - including heart attack and stroke - was 7.9 events per 1,000 women per year. That's higher than the rate of these events in the overall study population, which was 2.4 per 1,000 women per year.
Top 10 Migraine Triggers October 19, 2011
Migraine cause 'identified' as genetic defect BBC - September 27, 2010
Scientists have identified a genetic defect linked to migraine which could provide a target for new treatments. A flawed gene found in a family of migraine sufferers could help trigger the severe headaches, a study in Nature Medicine suggests.
Scientists discover how to 'switch off' pain of migraines Telegraph.co.uk - September 27, 2010
Migraine sufferers could have their headaches switched off after researchers discovered a gene that acts like a pain thermostat in the brain. The "once in a generation" finding could allow scientists to create a new generation of drugs that can simply turn down up the threshold at which the body fells pain. The international study, including scientists at Oxford University, found that a gene called TRESK appears to be fundamental in causing migraines.
First genetic link to common migraine exposed PhysOrg - August 30, 2010
The team found that patients with a particular DNA variant on Chromosome 8 between two genes - PGCP and MTDH/AEG-1 - have a significantly greater risk for developing migraine. Migraine affects approximately one in six women and one in twelve men, and has been estimated to be the most expensive brain disorder to society in the EU and US.
Migraine and depression may share genetic component PhysOrg - January 14, 2010
New research shows that migraine and depression may share a strong genetic component. The research is published in the January 13, 2010, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Why Bright Light Worsens Migraine Headache Pain Live Science - January 10, 2010
When a migraine hits, many sufferers hide out in a dark room, away from the painful light. Now scientists think they know why light makes migraines worse.
Migraine raises risk of most common form of stroke PhysOrg - November 16, 2009
Pooling results from 21 studies, involving 622,381 men and women, researchers at Johns Hopkins have affirmed that migraine headaches are associated with more than twofold higher chances of the most common kind of stroke: those occurring when blood supply to the brain is suddenly cut off by the buildup of plaque or a blood clot.
Migraine with aura increases stroke risk PhysOrg - October 28, 2009
Migraine with aura (temporary visual or sensory disturbances before or during a migraine headache) is associated with a twofold increased risk of stroke, finds a study published in the British Medical Journal today. Further risk factors for stroke among patients with migraine are being a woman, being young, being a smoker, and using oestrogen containing contraceptives.
Severe Headaches Associated With Higher Temperatures, Lower Barometric Pressures Science Daily - March 10, 2009
Although large numbers of headache sufferers, particularly individuals who struggle with migraines, attribute their pain to the weather, there has been little scientific evidence to back up their assertions. Now, a study of more than 7,000 patients, led by researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), provides some of the first large-scale data on how environmental conditions -- weather, as well as air pollution -- influence headache pain.
Clue to migraine headache cause BBC - December 26, 2007
Scientists may be a step closer to uncovering the cause of certain types of debilitating migraine headaches. A French team observed activation in the hypothalamus region of the brain as sufferers had a migraine attack. The hypothalamus has long been suspected as it regulates physiological responses to factors known to trigger headaches, such as hunger.
January 18, 2002 - Reuters
Can't beat that headache? Why not try an incantation to falcon-headed Horus, or a soothing poultice of "Ass's grease"? According to researchers, 3,500-year-old papyri show ancient Egyptians turning to both their gods and medicine to banish headache pain. "The border between magic and medicine is a modern invention; such distinctions did not exist for ancient healers," explain Dr. Axel Karenberg, a medical historian, and Dr. C. Leitz, an Egyptologist, both of the University of Cologne, Germany.
In a recent issue of the journal Cephalalgia, the researchers report on their study of papyrus scrolls dating from the early New Kingdom period of Egyptian history, about 1550 BC. Ancient Egyptian healers had only the barest understanding of anatomy or medicine. Indeed, while the head was considered the "leader" of the body, the brain itself was considered relatively unimportant--as evidenced by the fact that it was usually discarded during the mummification process.
Headache, that timeless bane of humanity, was usually ascribed to the activity of "demons," the German researchers write, although over time Egyptian physicians began to speculate that problems originating within the body, such as the incomplete digestion of food, might also be to blame.
Once beset with a headache, those living under the pharaohs turned to their gods for help. One incantation sought to evoke the gods' empathy, imagining that even immortals suffered headache pain. "'My head! My head!' said Horus," reads one papyrus. "The side of my head!' said Thoth.
In this way, Karenberg and Leitz write, "the patient is identified with (the gods) Horus and Thoth," the latter being the god of magicians and wise men. The incantation continues with the sun god Ra ordering the patient to recover "up to your temples," while the patient threatens his "headache demons" with terrible punishments ("the trunk of your body will be cut off").
Still, the gods may have ignored the pleas of many patients, who also turned to medicine for relief. According to one ancient text, these included a poultice made of "skull of catfish," with the patient's head being "rubbed therewith for four days." Other prescriptions included stag's horn, lotus, frankincense and a concoction made from donkey called "Ass's grease." Even these remedies could be divinely inspired, however. On one 4,000-year-old scroll, a boastful druggist claims that his headache cure is prepared by the goddess Isis herself.
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