Why Migraine Forecasting Matters?

Migraine forecasting is so new that there is very little written about it.  The concept is very simple but could prove effective in helping people to manage their pain.  It involves recording everything you do for a set period of time including when you have an attack.  

Analysis of the data enables possible identification of triggers and life events that precede a migraine.  Having a rough idea of when a migraine is likely to strike could allow sufferers to avoid the triggers and hopefully prevent an attack.

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Triggers

Triggers can differ depending on who you are.  The most common triggers are; hormones, food, food additives, drinks, stress, sensory stimuli, changes in sleep patterns, physical exertion, weather changes and medication.  There are four main types of attack; pain with aura, pain without aura, aura without pain and chronic migraines.  People usually feel the following symptoms before an attack; mood changes, food cravings, neck stiffness, increased thirst and yawning.  After this period (Prodrome); pain, possibly an aura (visual disturbances) and nausea follow.  Migraines can last up to 72 hours if left untreated and varies with each individual. Sufferers can miss a lot of time at work because the effects are so debilitating.  

What Is Migraine Forecasting?

The first stage of migraine forecasting is to record everything you; eat, drink, weather, activities, and travel for an agreed period of time.  This will provide insight into what you were doing and the weather conditions before you become ill. A thorough analysis of all of the information will identify individual triggers.   It is then possible to avoid certain situations, food etc or change your routine slightly to see if migraines can be prevented.  

Dr Houle from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston conducted a study to see if it was possible to predict attacks. The sample involved 95 people with migraines recording 4,195 days of diary data.  During this time an average of 1,613 days recorded attacks.  Participants tended to suffer greater stress on the days leading up to a migraine.  Dr Houle concluded that, "This study demonstrates that it is quite possible to forecast the occurrence of a headache attack within an individual headache sufferer." Every individual case will have to be taken into consideration but there is hope for migraine sufferers. (Source: Medicalnewstoday.com).

Treatments

Migraines are not the same as ordinary headaches as they are likely to be connected to the nervous system.  Although over the counter painkillers can help in some cases, a medication containing triptan is most effective.  Medication containing Triptan is most effective when taken at the onset of a migraine.  Migraine treatments include selective serotonin 5-HT1B/1D  agonists or triptans and provide instant relief from pain.  Imigran, Maxalt, Zomig, and Zolmitriptan are migraine treatments that contain triptans.

Being able to predict when a migraine may strike will allow you to take preventative medication and carry on with your life.

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By Birpal Virdee (October 2017)