Patients who suffer from migraine headaches often feel hopeless, and alone in their condition. Fortunately, there are many treatment options available that can help manage their headaches.
When people think of “migraines”, they think of a terrible unrelenting headache. Although this is true, what they don’t know is that migraine headaches are neurological diseases that have several types. Research has shown that although the root causes of migraine headaches are virtually unknown, genetic and hormonal factors do play a part in their occurrence.
Women suffer migraine headaches three times more than men. Common triggers include hormonal changes, lack of sleep/fatigue, stress and bouts of hunger.
Fours Stages of Migraine Headaches
There are four-stages of the migraine headache. They are: Prodromal, Aura, Headache, and Post-Drome. In the “Prodromal” stage, patients may experience light sensitivity (photophobia), sound sensitivity (phonophobia), nausea, vomiting and mood changes. In the “Aura” stage patients may see dots, blurred vision, zig-zag lines, and/or spots. The third stage is the actual “Headache” which tends to include an intense, severe headache, coupled with increased photophobia, phonophobia, and nausea. The last stage is the “Postdrome” stage, where patients usually experience dizziness, fatigue, lightheadedness, sleepiness, and disorientation.
With “aura” and Without “aura”
Migraine headaches “with” aura, account for approximately 25% of migraines and occur on “both sides” of the head. The aura lasts for about 10-30 minutes, signaling an impending severe episode. When migraines occur “without” aura, the same symptoms are present, however they are usually initiated by physical activity and usually occur on “one side” of the head.
TREATMENT AND MANAGEMENT:
Management of migraine headaches is two-fold. First, there is Abortive treatment for treating patients that are actively in the throes of a severe migraine episode. Second, there are preventative treatments for managing the severity and the frequency of migraine headaches.
Relief During An Episode
Abortive drugs for migraine headaches include over-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), NSAIDs(Ibuprofen, Naproxen), caffeine combination drugs, injectable and intranasal triptan drugs (Sumatriptan, Rizatriptan), intranasal Lidocaine, and Dihydroergotamines.
Preventative medications for migraine headache management include Anticonvulsants (Topiramate, Valproic acid), Beta Blockers (Toprol XL, propranolol), Calcium Channel Blockers (Verapamil, Cardizem), Antidepressants (Amitriptyline, Effexor, Cymbalta), and Botox Injections. Newer medications that are very effective for migraine prevention are called CGRP inhibitors (Calcitonin gene-related peptide inhibitors). These medications help block the molecule responsible for causing pain during migraine headaches. These medications include Aimovig and Emgality.
Lifestyle Changes for Migraine Relief/Reduction and Overall Wellness
Lastly, embracing a lifestyle to reduce stress is very effective in the prevention of migraine headaches. Some stress reducing measures that can help include yoga, proper diet, psychological counseling, meditation and message therapy. Dr. Leopold will be happy to discuss all treatment options with you and tailor a treatment plan that maximizes your overall health.