Migraines affect about 730 million people globally. They are painful, intense, and incredibly disabling headaches characterized by a throbbing pain that concentrates on one side of the head often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and increased sensitivity to sound and light. When you are in the throes of a migraine headache, everything hurts; your hair hurts, shaving hurts, and even taking a shower hurts.
This condition is completely debilitating. The world had a little more than aspirin to fight this pulsating, disabling pain just a few decades ago. In the 80s, researchers developed strong medications that can halt migraine attacks, but there were limitations and some serious side effects. For instance, these drugs can lead to heart problems or other conditions for some people. Additionally, the medication has to be taken within one hour after a migraine starts or it won’t work.
People are still using some of these older migraine drugs today. However, the fight against migraine headaches has taken a turn from focussing on treatment to prevention. These drugs are intended to stop the debilitating pain before it even begins. These medications affect blood vessel inflammation and brain chemical imbalance, two of the main factors associated with migraine headaches.
One of the approaches towards fighting migraines is via preventative methods. Migraine sufferers take these medicines on a daily basis, even when they don’t have any headache, to prevent a migraine attack. This approach may not be successful in the prevention of the occurrence of these headaches, but it sure does reduce the frequency and severity of attacks.
Finding the Cure
Currently, the FDA is reviewing a migraine drug known as Trexima, a combination of naproxen sodium and a migraine drug known as Imitrex. Naproxen is found in Over-the-Counter drugs such as Aleve and others; it’s basically a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug. This triptan helps prevent the dilation of blood vessels that often leads to migraine attacks.
According to product developers, this triptan also has anti-inflammatory properties that prevent the release of an inflammation-triggering enzyme. But this drug isn’t the only hope for migraine sufferers across the globe; there is another drug that’s still in its testing stages. This new drug doesn’t only prevent migraine attacks; it actually halts the attack.
According to the director of research for the Chicago-based Diamond Headache Clinic George R. Nissan, this new drug shows a lot of promise in both prevention and stopping of migraine attacks. The drug inhibits the release of calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP), and protein released during the inflammation that leads to a migraine attack. According to Nissan, this drug doesn’t constrict blood vessels, so there are no concerns for people with heart disease.
Ongoing research on the cure for migraines is focused on the development of a drug that doesn’t have the side effects or limitations of blood-pressure-lowering or anti-seizure medication. However, it may take a while before the FDA approves some of the migraine halting or preventing drugs that are being developed or tested at the moment. Research is also shedding more light on the causes of migraines, and once that has been found, we should expect a migraine cure soon after.
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