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Migraines in women explained

08-03-2021

Migraines in women explained

For many of us, migraine is an invisible enemy. This neurological condition can impact both our personal and social lives. However, with awareness, understanding, and support from society, people who suffer from migraines can manage and overcome this disorder.  

Migraine is often linked with headaches but it’s much more than that. Studies has found that migraine is the second most disabling disease after lower back pain. Did you know, that women are three times more likely to suffer from migraines than men? People in their 30s and 40s are more vulnerable to this syndrome.

The frequency of migraine attacks varies from one gender to another and can last from few hours to few days. Repeated headaches, nausea, aura, and extreme sensitivity to light are some of the notable symptoms experienced by migraine sufferers.

Women are likely to experience more prolonged migraine attacks than men. Although some people may not be able to identify what causes migraines, research shows us that chemical imbalance of hormones such as serotonin and estrogen triggers migraines sensitivity.

Why women are more likely to experience migraines than men?

The bodies of women are designed to perform unique functions. They have a hormone known as estrogen, which plays a crucial role in their sexual development and also helps regulate their menstrual cycles. Its level keeps changing throughout their life – its amount increases during pregnancy days and decreases when they are not expecting a baby.

Serotonin is responsible for communication between nerve cells; it is thought to cause narrowing of blood vessels in the body, which is one of the prominent reasons for migraines in both sexes. Changes in estrogen level, however, impacts only women.

Migraine, women, and midlife: 

Research shows that in women, chances of migraine occurrence increases when menarche – the first occurrence of menstruation – approaches. Childbearing ladies, especially the ones who are in their 30s, are more vulnerable to migraine attacks. As the midlife approaches, the migraine impact also increases. The midlife onset of migraine in women is attributed to hormonal imbalance during menopausal transitions. Hormonal and non-hormonal therapies and several behavioural approaches can be adopted to manage migraines.

What triggers Migraines?

Although many factors can trigger migraines, some are notable. Study shows that stress, emotional and hormonal imbalance can play a significant role in migraine development.

Some environmental factors like exposure to high-intensity light or certain smells can also trigger this disease.  

Treatments of Migraine:

There are multiple treatments available for Migraines. There are two broad categories, i.e. pain relievers and preventative medications. Pain relievers mainly stop the symptoms, while preventives meds are designed to manage migraine attacks' severity and frequency.

Scientists have long been working on migraines to find the treatments and uncover their causes. They have successfully developed drugs that have proven effective against a migraine-causing protein known as calcitonin gene-related peptide or simply CGPR. It's indeed a huge milestone in our efforts to combat this illness.

The following medicines are known for effective action against Migraine:

1. Sumatriptan

  • Most frequently prescribed medicine for migraine.
  • Most popular among patients.
  • Take orally with or without food.
  • Daily dosage should not exceed 200 milligrams.
  • Works by bringing down blood vessels to normal size and stops the release of certain chemicals that cause inflammation.

2. Imigran Nasal Spray

  • Overall impression is reported to be better or equal to that of the Sumatriptan tablet and injection.
  • Helps relieve headaches and other related symptoms of a migraine.
  • Designed to minimise the widening of blood vessels.
  • The adult dose is one Imigran 20 mg spray into just one nostril. 
  • Not recommended for people under 12 and above 65.
  • Perceived to have a faster onset of action and has better tolerability than tablets.

3. Rizatriptan

  • Used for the acute treatment of migraine
  • Has improved properties as compared with Sumatriptan.
  • Maximum adult dose of this medicine should not exceed more than 30 milligrams in 24 hours.
  • For children, the recommended dose of this medicine is 5 milligrams in 24 hours.
  • Can be used with or without food, effective when taken on an empty stomach.

When it comes to defeating migraines, you shouldn't just rely on medicines. Behavioural modifications are also proven to help control this disease. Adopting anti-stress measures, taking adequate sleep, and regular exercise can uplift your immunity against migraine and many disorders.

Some common myths associated with Migraines:

There are a lot of myths falsely associated with migraines, and we need to debunk them. One of the common myths is that a migraine is just a headache which is untrue! In fact, it is the second most disabling disease around the globe.

Migraine has a broad spectrum; hence not all are the same. From mild to severe, it can vary a lot. Some people may experience just minor symptoms, while others may find migraine disabling.

The notion that only a particular imaging test can confirm migraine is false. A thorough physical exam from a migraine specialist is all you need to check whether you have a migraine or not.

Identification of migraine triggers is possible. You need to get in touch with your healthcare provider to know the causes and solutions for migraines.

Do migraines often come with aura? Not necessarily. Aura is characterised by a visual or sensory disturbance that happens before a migraine – in some cases. Interestingly, cases with aura count for only 30% of all migraine cases.

It is true that migraine mostly occurs in women, but it doesn't mean men don't get a migraine. In fact, boys in their childhood get more attacks than girls.

 

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