Health Watch: Migraines

Brief periods of depression, anxiety, decreased appetite are just a few symptoms that often lead to migraine pain.

For nearly six million Americans the problem is chronic, meaning they have more than 15 a month.

"I wish I could say I have a clear reason why somebody has headaches, but there are actually several reasons why someone can have headaches," said Priyanka Chaudhry, MD, Neurologist, Baylor Scott & White Health.

Migraines affect over 47 million people with 90% needing to take time off from work. One reason may be found in your genes.

"With some of the good looks and other things that your parents pass along to you, you can also have genes for migraine," continued Dr. Chaudhry.

Migraines cost over $70 billion a year in lost work. And 75% of all those affected are women.

"A lot of moms will say that I just cannot stop, I have to be functioning for my kids," Dr. Chaudhry said.

Patients can take two anti-seizure drugs: Valproate and Topiramate to help cope with a migraine.

As for prevention ...

Dr. Chaudhry said, "We used to have a lot of preventive medications, which were borrowed from other specialties, like antihypertensive, antidepressants, antiepileptics."

Now, you can use two beta blockers, Inderal and Blocadren, for migraine prevention. Doctors say at least 40% of people with migraines should be on preventative medications, but only 13% are. Patients can also turn to a new non-drug option called Nerivio Migra. It is an armband controlled through your phone and costs $99 for 12 applications.

Also, on the horizon: researchers from Allergan are looking at a set of inhibitors called Gepants to create a new class of oral medications to reduce the pain of migraines. Another interesting fact: NIH funds ten times as much for arthritis research ... only 20 million for migraine research.

Contributors: Keon Broadnax, Field Producer; and Roque Correa, Editor.
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