Inability to get out of bed, cover the eyes due to intolerance to light or noise, leading to a state of restlessness in addition to severe headaches They are one of the most common symptoms suffered by migraine sufferers. Therefore, as part of World Migraine Day and the approval of the first drug for prevention and treatment Neurologist and professor at the National University of Mar del Plata, Iván Roa, describes in detail what is known today about this acute illness and how important it is to make a diagnosis.
One in seven people in the world suffers from migraines. In Argentina, one in ten. However, in many cases it is downplayed and referred to as a “normal” headache. Although the cause is still under investigation, There are various elements that act as triggers and even a genetic component That although it does not mean that it is inherited, the risk of suffering from it is greater.
What is Migraine?
“We need to understand it as a chronic disease characterized by recurrent headache episodes.. Migraines have certain characteristics that distinguish them from others. Generally, Half of the head is usually painful and has pulsating characteristics (“Beats” in the head or behind the eyes), and even causes nausea and vomiting. In addition, it has two fundamental properties when pain is present: Phonophobia and photophobia that is the nuisance of sound and light,” Roa explained.
“According to the World Health Organization, migraine is the eighth disabling disease and we don’t give it enough importance. To put it in numbers, it results in a $17 trillion loss in productivity between the public and private sectors in the United States.”
What are its origins?
“The true cause is still unknown. It may be vascular, there may be reduced blood flow to certain areas, or there may be overstimulation of some areas of the brain. What is known is that it has a hereditary factor, which does not mean that if my mother or father has it, I will get it. However, it is known that people with family members who have already suffered from migraines are at higher risk of developing it. Women are three times more likely to be affected than men and the age of onset is between 25 and 50 years,” said the head of neurology at the Community Private Hospital. (HPC).
“Migraines occur outside of any stimuli. We now know that there are certain activities that can trigger it, such as eating, physical activity or smells.. It’s not like everyone who eats chocolate or smells cigarette smoke gets a headache. So what we need to do is avoid the situation that can trigger the disease,” he added.
What treatments are there?
“We have two types of treatments. On the one hand there is the abortifacient where medication is taken for headaches, which is usually done. This can be done if the pain does not occur frequently. For the others, the preventive measure aimed at reducing the number of days the patient experiences pain. That means if the person is in pain for 30 days, which is usual, it should be sore for 15 days. It is still impossible to avoid them, but it is possible to significantly reduce them and increase viability. It is very important to be aware of this. When we interview patients, it happens that they tell us that the pain is normal, which does not exist, because the normal thing is that it doesn’t hurt.“.
A new drug that relieves symptoms in half the days
In an article published in the journal The lancet It was shown that the new drug halved the days with symptoms in 50% of patients with moderate and severe migraines who took it for 3 months. “This new drug has already been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 2020 and is the same type we currently use to treat and prevent headaches. Studies show it is effective, but there are no benchmarks yet to determine which is better. “Sometimes each treatment is very individual because of the side effects that the drug can cause in people,” explains the neurologist.
“We talk about migraine in detail and specifically, but the headache needs to be investigated because it could be another disease that is causing it and it needs to be ruled out,” he explained.
Recommendations for identifying triggers and reducing pain days
1 – On a calendar, record the days you have a headache and the amount of medication you take. If you have more than six per month, you should definitely see a doctor
2 – Make sure you eat regularly, at least every three hours
3- Maintain a consistent sleep schedule and try to sleep the same number of hours each night
4 – Perform aerobic physical activities on a similar schedule daily
5 – Identify possible foods or drinks that may be associated with migraine episodes