There is more to migraines than just a headache and pain. They are a debilitating and a possibly life-threatening neurological condition that affects approximately one in every four households in the U.S. Women are three times more prone to this condition than men. But anybody, at any stage of life, can experience migraine headaches, including children.
Migraine headaches are characterized by intense pulsing or throbbing in one area of the head. Other symptoms may include nausea and vomiting, as well as sensitivity to smell, sound, and light.
Medication is the most common treatment for migraines. But technological advancements have led to many breakthroughs in treating this condition, such as migraine devices and injections. Let’s take a look at some of the newest migraine treatment methods available on the market.
Migraine treatment medications fall into two major categories: pain-relieving and preventive medications. The first type of a drug stops or aborts migraines from progressing any further once they begin. The second type of a drug prevents migraines from occuring in the first place.
Here are some of the most common migraine medications.
- Over-the-counter medications. These may include analgesics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and caffeine-infused brands, such as Ibuprofen, Aspirin, Naproxen, and Acetaminophen. These may also be taken in combination. However, when taken for too long, these might cause severe side effects, such as bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Ubrogepant (Ubrelvy). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved ubrogepant tablets for treating migraines. This new migraine medication can be used to treat chronic migraines with or without aura in adults. However, make sure not to take it with strong CYP3A4 inhibitor drugs.
- Triptans. These prescription drugs come in tablet or nasal spray form. They could also be injected. They are effective in blocking pain pathways in the brain. However, they may not be safe for people who are at risk of heart attack or stroke.
- Lasmiditan (Reyvow). This is another new oral tablet that was recently approved for migraine treatment. However, it’s known to have a sedative side effect, so it is advisable to avoid driving or operating machinery for at least eight hours after taking it.
Medication is often the first line of defense against migraines. And they are generally effective in managing pain. However, many of them cause adverse effects, such as nausea, drowsiness and long-term health complications.
Fortunately, medical technological breakthroughs have led to the invention of several non-invasive vagus nerve stimulator (nVNS) devices. These devices are often portable and have limited side effects, unlike various pain relief drugs. Patients who’ve tried some form of these devices reported a significant reduction in the duration of their migraine attacks.
Each migraine device works differently, but they all make use of neuromodulation. This involves nerve stimulation by using magnets or electrical currents to modulate the signaling activity that is generated in the brain. Some devices are designed to stop the attacks that are already happening, while others prevent migraines from happening in the first place.
For example, Migracorr’s Migraine Stopper is the world’s first patient-operated, pneumatic medical device designed to treat migraines. It uses precise negative and positive air pressure to stimulate the two nerves (vagus and trigeminal nerve) found in the ear to calm down the over-excited brain stem, leading to migraine relief.
Injections for Migraines
Some of the most effective injections for treating migraines include the following:
Scientists and researchers have found out that CGRP (calcitonin gene-related peptide) may play a causative role in triggering migraines, as it is released during migraine attacks. CGRP inhibitors are a new class of drugs that stop migraines from being activated as a kind of abortive migraine treatment.
They can be taken monthly or quarterly through self-injection using a prefilled pen or syringe. But if your migraine has already started, ubrogepant tablets offer an oral option for treating the pain. Some of the common side effects of CGRP inhibitor injections include redness and pain at the injection site. The less common side effects include rashes, itching, hives, and trouble breathing.
When we hear Botox, we immediately think of its cosmetic use. But did you know that it is also used as an effective chronic migraine treatment? Botox, a nerve paralyzing agent, is injected around pain fibers that cause migraines to prevent migraines before they can emerge by blocking the release of chemicals that cause pain transmission.
One injection may last for 10 to 12 weeks. But you may need several treatments if you want to maximize its effects. Patients report that after two treatments, their headache frequency was reduced by 50%.
Migraine Elimination Diet
The most common migraine triggers are stress and lack of sleep. But your environment and what you’re eating may also be triggering your migraines.
If you suspect that some of the foods you’re eating are causing your migraines, you can try the elimination migraine diet approach. It’s not a sure thing, but it’s better than doing nothing. And it might even help you identify some—if not all—of your food triggers.
By applying the elimination diet, you can remove the foods and beverages that are possible triggers of migraines from your meals. Ideally, you will then slowly reintroduce them one every two days. It is recommended that you start with the ones you think are less likely to cause migraines. This way, you can narrow down what foods are possibly causing your migraines by keeping track of variables you can control.
Here are just some of the most common foods that can trigger a migraine attack.
- Red wine
- Excessive coffee
- Aged cheese and other dairy products
- Citrus fruits
- Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)
- Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners
- Nuts and certain seeds
- Processed and cured meats
Other potential food triggers, according to Cleveland Clinic, include:
- Organ meats like chicken liver
- Dried fruits, such as figs, dates, and raisins
- Most beans including fava, lima, pinto, lentils, garbanzo, and snow peas
- Potato chips
- Picked foods, such as sauerkraut, olives, and pickles
- Dried or smoked fish
- Tomato-based products
You’ll need to skip these foods for at least three months to experience conclusive results. While on an elimination diet, make sure that you eat plenty of fresh, natural foods. Avoid processed food or overly ripe fruits. And don’t skip meals or forget to drink plenty of water. Being hungry and thirsty can also trigger a migraine attack.
If you get a migraine after adding certain foods back to your diet, you need to examine the foods you’ve eaten for the last three days and not just the ones you ate that day. So, keeping a food journal will help you track all the foods you’ve eaten and can help you narrow down the possible culprits.
Why Is It Best to Choose Natural and Non-Invasive Remedies When Treating a Migraine?
Pain relief drugs are easily accessible and provide a fast-acting relief to migraines, which is why they have been widely used as a conventional solution for treating migraine headaches. However, they don’t come without a price. Most—if not all—can cause adverse side effects, such as nausea, blurred vision, or drowsiness.
Long-term use of NSAIDs may also lead to medication-overuse headaches or other severe health conditions, such as stroke, heart attack, stomach ulcers, and kidney damage. Moreover, some drugs may also cause health consequences or fatal interaction with your other medications.
Migraine injections are another effective treatment for migraines. However, you’ll need to receive the treatments on a regular basis to maximize their effects. This can be a deal-breaker for people who are afraid of needles. Likewise, this option is invasive and often comes with side effects. After all, you are still injecting chemicals into your body.
On the other hand, natural and non-invasive migraine remedies, such as migraine devices and elimination diets, pose minimal to no danger or side effects. Of course, you have to use the device correctly for it to be effective. Likewise, an elimination diet is only useful if you conduct it the right way.
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