Increasing incidence of Migraine

  • FG Bureau
  • India
  • Jan 02, 2015

Stress is acknowledged as one of the triggering factors that exacerbates migraine headaches and also causes tension headaches, says Dr Sumit Singh, Associate Director, Neurology, Incharge Headache Clinic, Medanta. He adds, “A typical day in the life of an Indian living in an industrial & commercial hub like Gurgaon, starts early and ends late - after several meetings, meeting of deadlines, skipped meals and traffic snarls…and the next day’s tensions already high on the mind. Yes, today working late has become common and skipping food has become a habit. Most Millennium City residents seem perpetually overworked and sleep deprived, while juggling multiple projects and responsibilities. This working class has little time for self or for relaxation. And, as they get used to this persistent high stress lifestyle, they are not only increasingly falling prey to lifestyle disorders like cardiovascular conditions and diabetes, but the stress and anxiety are also triggering Migraine. While the exact cause of a migraine headache is not known, it is believed that abnormal brain activity that affects nerve signals and blood vessels in the brain can trigger it. It is a debilitating disorder that wrecks the quality of life of the affected person. Yet, many of them do not seek medical help, believing that nothing can be done about it. There are a number of factors that trigger the (migraine) pain - like hormonal changes, lack of sleep, irregular food habits (causing acidity), depression, sun exposure and stress.  Some women experience migraines around the time of their periods, due to hormonal factors; in some, bright lights, loud noises (like loud honking on the roads) and strong smells can also act as triggers. Many food items can also be very potent migraine triggers.

While external factors like heat, dust and food habits can be moderated and controlled, internal factors like hormonal issues, stress, tension and anxiety have to be dealt with carefully. Sometimes, overuse of Over-The-Counter (OTC) painkillers can cause ‘rebound headaches’; and, over a period of time these painkillers cease to have much impact on the pain. Moreover, prolonged use of painkillers can not only cause systemic side effects on the kidney, liver and stomach, but can also cause ‘medication overuse headaches’ – a very difficult to treat entity. Doctors often focus on the preventive treatment of migraines, to keep the triggers at bay. ‘Solutions’ include medication, nutritional supplements, lifestyle alterations (such as increased exercise) and avoidance of ‘migraine triggers’. Many of those impacted find these therapies effective and often witness a radical improvement in their lives. However, in people suffering from chronic migraine, these ‘traditional’ methods do not yield results. For them, OnaBotulinum toxin type A, popularly known as Botox, comes as a huge relief. Approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), USA for prophylaxis in adult patients who suffer headaches on 15 or more days per month, each lasting more than 4 hours, the drug has proved to be of great help in managing the severe pain in many people. The impact of the drug lasts several months, and regular injections taken at three monthly intervals can significantly change the quality of life of these patients. Botox injections are given at particular points around the head and are to be given by physicians who are well versed in that (injection) technique.” 


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