About 39 million people in the US suffer from migraines, though some doctors believe the number is much higher since many people with migraines go undiagnosed.
When a migraine happens, it can sideline you from work, family affairs and daily life. There are some early warning signs you should know and new medications on the horizon.
The throbbing and pounding effects of a migraine can be debilitating.
“It’s very common in people that are in their most productive years of life. It’s one of the leading causes of disability worldwide,” said Dr. Teshamae Monteith, Chief of the Headache Division at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
Feeling tired can be an early warning sign of a migraine coming on. Having too little sleep can cause changes in proteins that help regulate the sensory response in migraines. Aiming for seven to eight hours of sleep per night is ideal for migraine sufferers.
Another sign: changes in vision.
“By looking at the small blood vessels in the eye, you can get a clue to the presence of disease in other parts of the body,” said Dr. Anthony DeMaria, a Professor of Cardiology at the University of California, San Diego.
As a migraine is about to occur, you may experience blind spots or see flashing lights or auras. Taking medication as soon as you notice any of these symptoms can lessen the effects of the migraine.
Pain in the jaw joint is also linked to migraines. Researchers found chewing gum while you have jaw pain can make the migraine worse.
“The pressure starts in my neck area, and it just keeps building and building,” said Cherise Irons.
One more warning sign: changes in the weather. A Japanese study found three out of four migraine sufferers reported the onset of a migraine with a drop in barometric pressure.
And, a sweet tooth or change of mood are not uncommon when a migraine swoops in, according to many sufferers.
Last year, the FDA approved a medication called Qulipta and recently accepted Zavegepant for review. If this new drug is approved, it would be the only nasal spray application for the treatment of migraines.
“If we can very specifically target this CGRP protein, then hopefully we can prevent the occurrence of migraines,” said David Kudrow, the director of the Neurological Research Institute of Southern California.
A worthy goal for sure.