Navigating the Storm
On too many occasions, I have witnessed a friend or loved one experience the debilitating, all-encompassing pain of a migraine headache. It's a challenging event to bear witness to, as the person experiences excruciating pain, nausea and sensitivity to all sensory input. I cannot imagine this level of pain. Perhaps worse yet, those who experience migraine headaches will likely experience them regularly.
Migraines hit hard and hit fast, so early intervention is critical. One drug that offers promising relief is ZAVZPRET™ (zavegepant), a migraine nasal spray that helps with migraines in adults.
The good news is that a migraine headache does not indicate some more sinister underlying medical condition. But this is a small comfort to those who are experiencing the horrible, life-limiting headache. What causes migraines? Can they be prevented? Are there signs and symptoms that can be monitored to ward off the onset and experience of this terrible headache?
The answer is yes, so let's examine migraines in greater detail to improve our health outcomes and those of the people we care about. Observation and attention are needed; remember that signs are things we can see, and symptoms are things we feel.
Migraine Triggers to Avoid
For those in my life who have experienced migraines, we have pinpointed several triggers that are now avoided. These triggers include changes in sleep patterns and schedules. Some individuals are triggered by their menstrual cycle, changes in the weather, dehydration and alcohol. For others, the migraine trigger may be certain foods, smells or even hunger.
Watch for These Signs of Migraines
Migraines are different from other types of headaches. A migraine can last for hours and even days. I have seen firsthand how someone with a migraine begs for darkness, solitude and stillness. Any movement can aggravate the headache, as can light, scents and sounds. You may notice that an individual with migraines may have difficulty speaking.
Listen for These Symptoms of Migraines
The pain of migraines is intense, with sufferers reporting the pain as throbbing, pulsating and pounding. In a typical migraine, the pain is localized on one side of the head, with concentrated pain around the eye, temple and around the ear.
As the severe pain and sensory sensitivity takes its toll on the body, nausea and vomiting may also occur. Others may experience an upset stomach. Warning symptoms that many sufferers have reported include blurred vision, dizziness and a loss of appetite. Those with a migraine may say that they are chilled or present as sweating.
Migraines occur in two primary forms; the person who is about to suffer a migraine may report experiencing an aura, while others do not. This aura is a vital sign to watch for, as preventative treatment depends on timing. While a migraine without an aura hits without any prior warning, a migraine with an aura offers this much-needed warning. This warning aura is often described as a temporary disturbance in balance, coordination, vision, speech and sensations.
What is a Prodrome?
A prodrome is similar to an aura in that it is a warning sign of an impending migraine, although it is more subtle than the migraine aura. Signs and symptoms that are present with a prodrome include mood changes, food cravings, yawning, neck pain, constipation and more frequent urination.
More on Nurtec
Nurtec offers promising, quick and lasting relief. This oral medication is reported to “provide freedom from migraine pain in 2 hours and can treat migraine pain for up to 48 hours”. An added benefit of Nurtec is that once the medication is prescribed and taken, it can reduce the number of migraine headaches that one experiences.
Nurtec is a small, dissolving tablet prescribed by your primary care physician and is mainly used to treat migraines in adults. Unfortunately, it is not yet known if Nurtec is safe for use in children. Nurtec works as well for those who experience auras and for those who do not. Nurtec may not be suitable for you if you have kidney or liver illness, are pregnant or if you are breastfeeding.
ZAVZPRET™ (zavegepant) for Migraines
ZAVZPRET™ (zavegepant) is a migraine nasal spray that's FDA-approved for acute treatment of migraine in adults. In a very important study called Phase 3, ZAVZPRET did much better than a pretend medicine on two important things: making the pain go away and stopping the most bothersome symptom for people, two hours after taking the medicine.
Other Treatment Options
As with many other illnesses and diseases, prevention is the best treatment. Johns Hopkins Medicine reports that preventative steps include:
- A combination of dietary modification, lifestyle changes, vitamins and daily prescription medications. Most of our best preventive medications are often used for other medical purposes as well; the majority are blood pressure drugs, antidepressants or epilepsy medications.
Just as with Nurtec, early intervention in the form of oral medications can provide relatively quick and lasting relief. Johns Hopkins Medicine goes on to explain how an early treatment by medication may help migraine headaches:
- Individual headache attacks are best treated early, often with one or more of the following types of medications: triptans, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), anti-emetics (anti-nausea) and sometimes narcotics or steroids.
Other migraine sufferers have found some relief through biofeedback practices, as well as relaxation techniques. If you have experienced a migraine headache or several without intervention, you must meet with your healthcare team. Johns Hopkins Medicine cautions that if occasional migraines are not treated properly, they can evolve into a constant daily headache; this now chronic headache is extremely hard to treat.