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New Research Suggests Magnets Could Be Used to Treat Migraines

Posted Friday 15 February 2019 22:31 by in Migraines by Tim Deakin

magnets for migraines

In the UK, migraines are an extremely common complaint. In fact, it is estimated that there are 190,000 migraine attacks every day in England alone, and UK-wide there are 6 million suffering with migraines. Prevalence of migraines has been reported at 5-25% of women and 2-10% of men, while it’s estimated that as many as 1 in 1,000 people live with chronic migraines.[1]

Now, however, recent research suggests that pocket-sized magnets could be used to provide fast relief from migraine symptoms. Magnets have been used in the treatment of migraines for decades, but these smaller sized versions could make the treatment more accessible.

Dr Richard Lipton, vice chair of the department of neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx and director of the Montefiore Headache Centre explained the effectiveness of migraines when speaking to the New York Post, saying:

“Magnets stimulate the brain. Forms of magnet therapy have been used as both diagnostic and therapeutic tools for a very long time. The challenge was building a lightweight, portable device. But now we’ve accomplished that.”[2]

The research

The trail of this new magnet treatment was completed by Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. It involved the use of treatment known as single pulse Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (sTMS), which has previously only been available in hospitals, and transferring it into a portable device.

The subject of the research was Barrington Simner, 72, from Bromley in south-east London, who suffered from migraines for more than 20 years.

Simner received sTMS in the form of a portable device placed on the back of the head for a few seconds, pressing a button to deliver a painful magnetic pulse into the brain. This works by stimulating cells in the outer surface of the brain, reducing the severity and frequency of migraines. It can be used up to eight times a day.

Describing his feelings towards the treatment, Simner commented:

“I started getting migraines when I turned 50 and over time they got progressively worse. At one point I was getting a migraine twice a week. They were completely debilitating […] I tried lots of different powerful painkillers, but the side-effects made me drowsy. sTMS is the only treatment that has worked for me.

“I’ve massively reduced the amount of painkillers I take. I am now able to volunteer, spend time gardening and enjoy life. I’m really thankful to the team at Guy’s and St Thomas’ for the care I’ve received. The treatment has completely changed my life.”[3]

Currently, Guy’s and St Thomas’ headache centre is the only NHS centre in the UK to offer this treatment.

Migraines are complex problems with many associated causes and symptoms

Migraines are the third most common disease in the world, with an estimated global impact of 14.7%, which works out at around one in seven people.[4] Despite this, the true cause of migraines has not yet been determined, and research into migraines is the least publicly funded of all neurological illnesses relative to its economic impact.[5]

With this in mind, it’s important to look at the research from Guy’s and St Thomas’ with a critical eye. While the results of the research into portable sTMS is promising, the experience of having a migraine is different for every sufferer, as is the treatment which works best. For many, taking steps to prevent triggers is the best solution.

For some people, lifestyle changes such as improving diet, drinking plenty of fluids, engaging in exercise and taking time away from electronic devices can all positively impact migraine symptoms. For others, effective medication is the only way to treat the condition in the long-term. For example, upon its release in the early 1990s, studies found sumatriptan to be “an effective long-term acute treatment for migraine.”[6]

Leading migraine treatments such as Sumatriptan and Imigran can be obtained quickly and easily from the NHS-approved pharmacists at Express Pharmacy. For more information, call us on 0208 123 07 03 or use our discreet live chat


[1] National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). Botulinum toxin type A for the prophylaxis of headaches in adults with chronic migraine. 2011 [Accessed February 2019]

[2] Malamut, M. The next big thing in migraine pain relief is already here. New York Post. 2019 [Accessed February 2019]

[3] Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Foundation Trust. Grandfather thanks hospital for life-changing migraine treatment. NHS UK. 2019 [Accessed February 2019]

[4] Steiner, T.J. et al. Migraine: the seventh disabler. The Journal of Headache and Pain. 2013 [Accessed February 2019]

[5] Shapiro, R.E., Goadsby, P.J. The long drought: the dearth of public funding for headache research. Cephalalgia, 2007 [Accessed February 2019]

[6] Pilgrim, A.J., The clinical profile of sumatriptan: efficacy in migraine. 1994 [Accessed February 2019]


Why Do Women Suffer From Migraines So Much More Than Men?

Posted Wednesday 24 October 2018 15:34 by in Migraines by Tim Deakin

Research shows that women are much more frequent victims of migraines than men. But why could this be?

Migraines are a well-established and common condition affecting men, women and children alike. One in seven adults experience migraines globally. However, the distribution of attacks is far from equal. In fact, figures from the Migraine Research Foundation suggest that as many as 85% of all migraine attacks are experienced by women.

Anyone who doesn’t experience migraines would be forgiven for assuming that they are simply intense headaches. However, the reality is much more serious. Alongside a throbbing headache, many sufferers experience nausea, vomiting, dizziness, visual disturbances, light, noise and scent sensitivity and, for some, even temporary muscle weakness on one side of the body. Migraines can last for hours at a time, or even days.

And that’s not all. Around one in four migraine sufferers also experience a collection of sensory disruptions called an ‘aura’, including blind spots, tingling, numbness and light flashes. Research from the American Journal of Medicine also found that migraine auras can increase the risk of ischemic stroke in women under 50.

However, the reason so many women experience migraines compared to men remains largely a mystery.

Director in the Office of Research on Women’s at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Janine Clayton, comments: “We don’t have the answer for why migraines are more common in women than men, but women are more susceptible to every pain condition than men.

“Also, women in pain are not always taken seriously. Women are perceived as excessively seeking help.”

Migraines tend to be worst for young women, and improve with age, meaning that many women experience regular severe migraines during the period of life when they should be most productive. Symptoms like light and sound sensitivity can make it difficult to work and complete daily activities.

Professor of Neurology & Anaesthesiology and Director of the Centre of Headache and Pain Medicine at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine, Mark Green, is just one of many experts who believes that fluctuating female hormones could be a major influence on migraine attacks.

Green theorises that the drop in oestrogen levels which occurs during a women’s period could be a major trigger of migraines, commenting: “Around period and ovulation, and just after a delivery, levels drop precipitously, which can be a problem.

“After menopause, when the levels of oestrogen remain low and don’t fall, most women’s migraines] improve. Oestrogen falls increase the excitability of the brain cortex. Migraine is a condition where the cerebral cortex is more ‘excitable,’ often genetically, so that is one reason why.”

Theories like Green’s are supported by the fact that, in childhood, boys experience more migraines than girls before puberty. From puberty to the menopause, migraines are far more common in women. What’s more, most migraine attacks in women tend to occur several days before or after menstruation.

However, not everyone agrees. Michael Oshinsky, programme director of pain and migraine at the National Institute of Neurological Disorder and Stroke, agrees that hormones may play a pivotal role in migraines, he states that “migraine is not a hormonal disorder. That’s a mistake. Think of it as a very diverse disorder. Each patient has to be diagnosed with her own criteria. There are likely many different pathways not working properly in the brain that lead to an attack. It’s a disorder of the nerves and the brain.”

While it may not be entirely clear why women are more susceptible to migraines than men, we do know that effective migraine relief medication is available from Express Pharmacy. Call 0208 123 07 03 or use our discreet live chat service to speak to a member of our team today.

Comments

Miyoshi Miller on Friday 07 December 2018 18:48

I think it has a lot to do with hormonal changes we women go through. Monthly (when were younger) it has to do with our monthly menstruation. When we get older, its menopause. Then our pituitary, triggered monthly regarding ovulation. I really don't know for sure though, just think this might be some of the reasons.

Reply

10 Facts You May Not Know About Migraines

Posted Thursday 30 August 2018 09:17 by in Migraines by Tim Deakin

Migraine Awareness Week 2018 begins on 2nd September. This is a chance for people to educate themselves on this common affliction, including how to spot the signs of a migraine and how to prevent and treat a migraine effectively. To help boost your knowledge surrounding migraines, here are ten facts you may not know.

Women suffer from migraines more than men

Around three quarters of people who suffer from migraines are women. This could be to do with the cyclical nature of female hormones. One study also found that levels of NHE1 (a protein which regulates the transfer of protons and sodium ions) fluctuate a lot more in women, and NHE1 is a key component of migraine headaches.

Migraines are the world’s third most common condition

Migraines are hugely common, affecting 6 million people in the UK and 14.7% of the world’s population. This equates to around one in every seven people, or one billion sufferers. Chronic migraines are less common, affecting around 2% of people globally. This is when sufferers experience at least 15 headaches per month over a three-month period, with more than half being migraines.

Children get migraines too

It’s not just adults who have to suffer with migraines – around 10% of children experience the condition. In fact, children as young as 18 months old have been known to experience a migraine attack. However, children can also grow out of their migraines. One study found that migraine symptoms had disappeared completely in 23% of child sufferers by the age of 25.

Auras can be a warning sign for some

Less than 25% of migraine sufferers experience distorted senses, but those that do can use them as a warning sign that a migraine attack is on the way. This usually involves blotches of light and dark disrupting their vision between 10 and 30 minutes before an attack.

Triggers can be very different for different people

Migraines can be caused by wildly different factors for different patients, making it difficult for doctors to treat them effectively. Common causes include stress, sleep deprivation, alcohol, dehydration and caffeine, though spicy foods, cheese and even weather conditions have all been known to result in a migraine attack.

Temporary blindness can be a symptom

A retinal migraine is a kind of migraine limited to one eye, and can lead to symptoms such as starry vision, partial blackness or complete loss of vision. It is almost always the same eye which is affected, and sight usually returns after 10 to 20 minutes.

…So can loss of limb function

A hemiplegic migraine is a rare and scary form of the condition which can result in weakness, numbness, tingling or complete loss of function in parts of one half of the body, including an arm, leg or face. This can last anywhere from one hour to several days!

Migraines might be hereditary

Migraines can run in the family. Between 80 and 90% of migraine sufferers report having at least one family member who also lives with the condition. What’s more, one study found that if both parents experience migraines, their child’s risk of acquiring the condition increases by 75%.

Migraines may have inspired Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland

In Carroll’s iconic story, Alice drinks a beverage which makes her grow and eats food which makes her shrink. This is reflective of two potential migraine symptoms: micropsia and macropsia. One popular theory is that Carroll suffered with migraines and turned his experiences into a story. Nowadays, related symptoms are even known as Alice in Wonderland Syndrome.

Treatment is available

Many people see their migraines as something they simply have to live with, but this isn’t the case. Safe and effective migraine treatment is available from Express Pharmacy, including Imigran and its unbranded equivalent Sumatriptan. Sumatriptan has been rated 10/10 in independent customer reviews.

Click here to explore the migraine relief medication available from Express Pharmacy, You can also get in touch by calling 0208 123 07 03 or using our discreet live chat service.


From Lazy Days to Holidays: Can These Things Really Cause Migraines?

Posted Tuesday 29 May 2018 15:12 by in Migraines by Tim Deakin

Nobody wants to suffer from migraines, but unfortunately they are a regular occurrence for almost 6 million people in the UK.

So if you are one of the many people dealing with this condition, here are some of the things you may not realise could be triggering your migraine attacks.

Changes in climate and temperature

Director of the John Hopkins Headache Centre in the US, Dr Nauman Tariq, says that sudden fluctuations in the weather and barometric pressure can sometimes trigger migraines. These are factors which are closely associated with flying abroad, especially to a significantly warmer country. So if you’re planning your summer holiday, make sure you prepare to stop migraines before they hit by staying cool and hydrated when flying.

Sleeping in

A lack of sleep is a well-recognised migraine trigger, but sleeping in can also be a cause for many people. Dr Susan Hutchinson of the Orange County Migraine and Headache Centre says: “Many migraine sufferers find that sleeping in on a weekend can cause them to have a migraine […] The reality is that migraine individuals should try to go to bed at the same time every evening and get up at the same time every morning including weekends.”

Your smartphone

The smartphone has become a staple asset to pretty much all of us in our daily lives, and while this generally makes things more convenient, it is also having a negative impact on our health. Using our smartphones before bed has been shown in multiple studies to reduce our sleep quality, making migraines more likely. The blue light emitted by the screen on many popular devices, including smartphones, can also act as an irritant for migraine sufferers.

Stressful events

Like lack of sleep, stress is a common and well-known migraine trigger. However, it’s also possible to experience ‘let down’ migraines in the time following a stressful event, as the adrenaline which has been getting you through the stress itself begins to dwindle. Dr Hutchinson says that “many migraine sufferers think ‘I can’t wait until this stressful time in my life is over, and I can finally relax’ only to then be hit with a horrible migraine.”

Stress relief measures like meditation, yoga and an overall healthy lifestyle can help you avoid these fluctuating levels of anxiety.

Patterns

Visual patterns like the block patterns you see on some floors stimulate the occipital cortex in the brain, according to Dr David Dodick of the American Migraine Foundation. This cortex is already hyper-excitable in people who suffer from regular migraines, making these patterns a common trigger when present on rugs, bedsheets and other household décor.

Sleep apnoea

Sleep apnoea is a common condition that affects around 5% of the UK population. It occurs when the upper airway is blocked during sleep, causing you to stop breathing for periods of time. Because of the decrease in oxygen concentration which sleep apnoea causes, it has also been shown to lead to migraines. Luckily, the condition is treatable.

Food additives

Food-related migraine triggers often differ greatly between sufferers, but there are some foods which are widely associated with migraines, such as red wine and processed meats. Aged cheeses and fermented food like kimchi or pickles can also lead to migraines, and research has found a link between migraines and artificial sweeteners found in things like diet fizzy drinks.

The headache tree

If you’re planning your summer holiday, you may be considering a break in sunny California. Well if you are, beware! The “Umbellularia californica” [‘California Laurel’] is a tree that’s only found in the coastal woodlands of California, and has a substance in its leaves (umbellulone) which activates a receptor on pain nerve endings that trigger migraines. That’s right, this tree can cause migraines simply by touching it, so admire with your eyes only.

Effective migraine medication is available from Express Pharmacy. Contact the team today for help and advice by calling 0208 123 07 03 or using our discreet online Live Chat service.


Winter’s Last Laugh: The Migraine

Posted Thursday 08 February 2018 12:04 by in Migraines by Tim Deakin

There are 190,000 migraine attacks in the UK every day, and winter only makes things worse

There’s a big difference between a migraine and a run-of-the-mill headache, as anyone who has ever experienced a migraine will know. Migraines are painful, throbbing attacks in the head which cause the UK population to lose 25 million days of work or school each year. It is the single most common neurological condition in the world, affecting around one in every seven people, but for many people migraines are far more common in winter months.

So now that the end of winter is finally in sight, it’s important to stay as safe and healthy as possible in these last few weeks before spring makes its welcome return. Let’s take a closer look at why exactly your migraine attacks are worse in winter, and what you can do to reduce your risk of experiencing migraines over the next few weeks.

Why are migraines worse in winter?

Changes provoke attacks

Sudden changes from warm to cold temperatures, or cold to warm, are known to cause head pain as your body tries to adjust to your new climate quickly. This is relevant at the start of winter when the weather first begins to get colder, but is also a significant factor throughout the season and at the end when spring approaches. Winter fluctuations in temperature tend to be more dramatic than those in summer, as some people find that simply moving from a cold street to a warm house (or vice versa) is enough to bring on a migraine.

Keeping a regular temperature in your home, and wrapping up outside, will help regulate your own temperature too. This means making sure your insulation is up to scratch, using draught excluders, and wearing a scarf, gloves and — in particular — a hat when you go outside.

You’re more likely to be dehydrated

Dehydration is a common migraine trigger, and unfortunately you’re more likely to be dehydrated in the winter than in the summer. Not only do we tend to drink less water in the winter in favour of tea and coffee, we also have to deal with winds, indoor heaters and fluctuations in barometric pressure which can all create dry air conditions.

Simply staying hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids is the best way to avoid dehydrating migraine attacks. You can also avoid excess alcohol intake and introduce more hydrating fruits and vegetables into your diets, like red peppers and watermelon.

Less natural light, more artificial light

With winter comes shorter days, which we’re still dealing with as we watch the sun set before 5pm every day. This forces us to rely more heavily on artificial lights, even during the day when the weather is grey and dull. Long hours of harsh, bright lights are another common migraine trigger, which is why it is often advised that you lie down in a cool dark room when a migraine does strike.

Where possible, you should opt for softer lighting options and avoid staring at screens like your laptop or smartphone for long periods of time. This is particularly important in the hour before you go to bed, as exposure to bright lights can make it more difficult to fall asleep.

You’re not moving as much

When it’s cold and dark outside, we’re less likely to feel the urge to leave the house, whether it’s for a morning gym session or a Sunday walk with the family. The result of this is more time spent sitting in front of the television.

Research shows that regular exercise can help reduce migraine symptoms, with one study stating that exercising for 40 minutes three times a week can reduce migraine attacks by 25%. Even vigorous housework can get your heart rate rising enough to improve your physical fitness.

If you suffer from regular migraines and are looking for fast, effective relief, Express Pharmacy offers prescription migraine medication that can be ordered online. We even offer next day delivery options on orders placed before 12pm.