Tuesday, March 11, 2014

How to Relieve Migraine Headache Quickly


In the U.S, a large percentage of people suffer from migraine headaches. For some individuals, it seems as if there is no medication that works to alleviate some of these severe headaches that they often experience.

Migraine pain may be due to extracranial  and intracranial arterial dilation leading to release of interactive molecules such as substance P (A neurotransmitter that is thought to be related to the sensation of pain).

 Two types of migraine headaches
1.The one that occurs without the Aura (previously called common migraine) is a severe unilateral, pulsating headache that typically lasts from 2 to 72 hrs. These headaches are often aggravated by physical activity and are accompanied by nausea, vomiting, photophobia (hypersensitivity to light) and phonophobia (hypersensitivity to sound). It is believed that approximately 85% of patients with migraine do not have aura -- neurological symptoms which can be visual, sensory, and/or cause speech or motor disturbances.

2.The second type of migraine which occurs with a aura ( previously called classic migraine). This headache is preceded by aura. Most commonly, these prodromal symptoms are visual, occurring 20 to 40 minutes before the headache  pain begins.  It is believed that 15% of migraine patients headache is preceded by aura.

For both types of migraines, women are said to be 3 times more likely to experience either type than men.
Many migraine suffers  kept changing  medications with the hope of finding one that may offer the best relief for their headaches. However, not before long, they have come to realize that each new medication tried have only provided little or no relief for their migraine headache.

How To Treat Migraine Effectively
There are two factors that have been preventing many people from effectively treating or preventing migraine headaches. The first, is not knowing exactly when to take the medication, and the second is the affordability of some of the most effective migraine drugs.

In order to achieve the best relief for either of the two migraine headaches mentioned above.  You must first take your medication at the onset of the symptoms, i.e. either during the aura or at the first hint of migraine pain without aura. Secondly, you have to make sure your health care provider has prescribed the most effective migraine` drug for you.

Based on findings, the most useful drugs for averting an acute migraine attack are Sumatriptan (Imitrex), ergotamine and non steroidal  anti-inflammatory drugs. In the case of Sumatriptan, it rapidly and effectively gets rid of, or remarkably reduces the severity of migraine headaches in about 80% of patients.

Sumatriptan act on drug receptors found on small peripheral nerves that innervate the intracranial vasculature. When these receptors are activated they are believed to block the release of substance P, thus preventing the sensation of pain.

Sumatriptan is given subcutaneously (SC/under the skin injections) or orally (By Mouth).  The onset of the parenteral drug(ex. When given by SC injections or IV injections etc) is about 20mins compared to 1 to 2hrs for drug administered orally(by mouth).  This drug has a short duration of action.  Headache commonly returns within 24-48 hrs. after a single dose.

In most patients, a second dose is effective in getting rid of  the headache.  However, this drug is very expensive, and cannot be afforded by everyone, so for those who have found other cheaper drugs that work or if for some reasons unable to tolerate Sumatriptan, it is advised that you stick to those cheaper and well-tolerated drugs.

Sources:
1)Basic Concepts in Pharmacology -- Lippincott's illustrated Reviews
2)My Pharmacology lecture notes

Note: For informtion on ergotamine and steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or for further investigation on Sumatripton(Imitrex) you can do your own research or read Pharmacology Text such as Basic Concepts in Pharmacology, Lippincott's illustrated Reviews and others.  You can also speak to your Pharmacist.