Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Pill Power Trumps Will Power Against Migraines

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By James Gaffney

Mature Life Features

Migraine sufferers take note: don’t try to stave off that encroaching headache through sheer will power. Most people who treat their migraines with triptans, among the most popular and effective medications, will find they work best if taken early in the attack, before skin sensitivity develops, according to Harvard Medical School research.

As their headaches progress, nearly four out of five migraine sufferers develop skin hypersensitivity. Merely touching their hair, scalp, or skin around the eyes causes pain. A Harvard study shows that, once this hypersensitivity takes root, it’s too late to abort the painful attack. However, if a triptan is taken before sensitivity develops, it is likely to completely relieve the pain.

Other research from Florida’s Palm Beach Headache Center suggests two-thirds of the people with migraines are pain-free within four hours if they take sumatriptan early enough in the attack.

If the triptans are taken before the skin becomes hypersensitive, they can completely alleviate the pain, Harvard researchers reported. They point out that it is vital that patients learn to recognize the first signs of skin hypersensitivity and to take their triptans before a migraine goes too far.

More than 28 million Americans get migraine headaches. Many are reluctant, for a variety of reasons, to take medication at the first sign of the attack for various reasons. Among them is the feeling that they should be abort their own headaches without medication. The irony, however, is that if a migraine sufferer waits until the headache is bad, the or she may need more medication to try to get rid of it.

People who are having more than two or three migraines a week need to see their doctors so they can be prescribed preventive medication, according to the Palm Beach researchers, who studied 691 migraine sufferers. They all were required to take medication within two hours of the start of the migraine — 236 were given a placebo, 233 were given 50 milligrams of sumatriptan, and 222 were given 100 mgs. of sumatriptan.

After four hours, 71 (30 percent) of the placebo group were pain-free, compared with 142 (61 percent) of the 50 mg. group and 151 (68 percent) of the 100 mg. group. The study also revealed that side effects,such as dizziness and nausea, were less if the medication was taken earlier than later.

A similar study by the American Academy of Neurology focusing on a different medication supports those findings. Of 250 patients studied, 60 percent of those who took the medication within 15 minutes of the onset of symptoms were pain-free two hours later.

Mature Life Features, Copyright 2004


Written by Cecil Scaglione

July 29, 2012 at 12:05 am

Posted in Health

Tagged with , , , ,

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