Treating Migraines

May 10, 2016

You may think that there’s no options for treating your migraines, but you don’t have to give up now.

In the last year the FDA has provide new options for adults that have migraines as they have allowed the marketing of two new prescription devices that can treat these severe headaches. For those that have difficulty with regular medications and drugs there’s the Cefaly transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation device as well as the Cerena Transcranial Magnetic Stimulator. In clinical studies both of the devices have been shown to pose minimal risks and be effective in treating migraines when used in accordance with their labeling.

Biomedical engineer with the FDA Michael Hoffmann says that there’s a large need for these types of devices because many anti-migraine drugs have side effects which many patients can’t tolerate.

Many drugs have systemic side effects since they are injected and then metabolized. The side effects of the drug can vary person to person. Many patients are looking for alternative migraine treatments because of these side effects. The new devices don’t have the same type of side effects and may be tolerated more by patients.

Drug Limitations

Throbbing pain as well as intense pulsing in one area are characteristics of migraine headaches. Other symptoms include sensitivity to light or sound as well as nausea or vomiting. A migraine may last around 4-72 hours when it’s not treated. NIH or the National Institutes of Health say that 12 percent of Americans or around 37 million people have some sort of migraine. The headaches are debilitating and can impact children as well as adults. Women are three times more likely to get them than men. About 18 percent of women have some type of migraine.

There are effective drug treatments for migraines, but there are side effects associated with those drugs. There are medical devices which aim to provide alternative treatments with side effects that are tolerable and fewer in nature.

A neurologist at the FDA, Eric Bastings, M.D., says that the drugs are effective, but not everyone can take them. You can feel dizzy, drowsy or tired when you take them. Some of them may impact your ability to think clearly. Some of the migraine drugs cause birth defects so they are unsuitable for pregnant women. The medical devices also have some limitations too and the safety of the Cerena and the Cefaly devices aren’t proven to be safe for pregnant women to use.

For people that have severe or frequent migraines they can use medications such as propranolol which is a beta blocker. A beta blocker will slow the heart rate and are used to treat heart conditions. If a patient has lung problems, a slow heart rate or asthma they can’t use the beta blockers.

Divalproex sodium and topiramate are antiepileptic drugs which can help people that have migraines. These are seizure medications and can help to reduce the number of migraines when they are taken on a regular basis, but they don’t usually eliminate the instances of migraines.

Someone with a migraine is often undertreated and underdiagnosed. Patients need to tell their health care providers about their headaches and might need to see a migraine specialist if they don’t get the relief that they seek. Doctors need to be aware of the alternative treatments of migraines as well as the regular drugs that can treat these severe headaches.

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