A pulsing, throbbing pain on one side of your head. Feeling like your head is caught in a vise grip. Seeing spots, vomiting uncontrollably, and praying for release. If those descriptions ring a bell then you're probably all too familiar with the debilitating pain and effects of migraine headaches
. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 303 million people worldwide suffer from migraines and there are 20 million of these severe headaches in full force each day.What causes migraines?
Migraines are vascular headaches that are a result of an abnormal response of nerve cells to certain stimuli. The pulsating pain is caused by the activation of nerve fibers found in blood vessels in the brain. When these blood vessels narrow, the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain is restricted. As a result, other blood vessels expand to increase blood flow.Migraine attacks
can last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours if untreated. The hours can seem like days. In addition to head pain, sufferers report greater sensitivity to light, odors, and noise, as well as other unpleasant symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. Any kind of movement can make things even worse, which explains why lying still in a totally quiet dark room is, in some cases, the only way to ride out the pain.
What brings them on? For some people certain foods can trigger a migraine attack. Alcohol, chocolate, aged cheeses, aspartame, MSG, fermented or pickled foods, and caffeine are common culprits. In other cases, something as simple as a change in weather can bring on a migraine. A lack of sleep, stress, hormonal changes and low blood sugar may also be to blame.
Whatever the triggers may be, the latest research has found the root cause of migraines has both a genetic and neurological factor. A new study reveals that three genes are involved. The genetics of migraines.
People who inherit any one of these three genes are at greater risk for migraines – as much as 10 to 15 percent. A study that examined data from more than 23,000 women (women suffer more migraines than men) including more than 5,000 migraine sufferers, found a link between the condition and variations in the TRPM8 gene, LRPI gene, and PRDM16. These genes are responsible for cold and pain sensitivity and message transmission among neurons.
These newest findings are encouraging because scientists now understand that rather from a multi-genetic condition, migraines result from disordered sensory processing involving these three specific genes. Dr. Daniel Chasman from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School states, “ While migraine remains incompletely understood and its underlying causes difficult to pin down, identifying these three genetic variants helps shed light on the biological roots for this common and debilitating condition.”
More research is needed to fully grasp exactly how each of the three genes contributes to migraine headaches, but the new findings have begun to unravel the genetic thread. While it's been known for some time that migraines are an inherited condition, the new research shows that it's also a neurological condition. Relief for migraine headaches.
Many times migraine pain is so severe sufferers may feel strong prescription medication is necessary in order to get even limited relief. However, more and more people are turning to alternative therapies
such as acupuncture or chiropractic to help ease the pain. While these alternatives don't treat all of the symptoms associated with migraines, they may serve as a proactive strategy. Along with prescribed medications, prevention should be considered if migraines occur on a weekly basis, or if they occur less frequently but are still disabling.