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New migraine research says ‘skip the opioids’

How to treat migraines? Opioids may not be the best form of treatment, a new study finds, especially over the longer-term.

Migraines cause incredible misery to many people. In the search for pain relief, opioids are not likely to deliver the answer. This finding, and others, are presented in an overview of three areas of cutting edge migraine research.

It is estimated that 10 percent of the world population suffers from migraine headaches, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. This includes the journalist penning this article. It could be that the reason is connected to a hyper-excitable visual cortex. Consequently, research into migraine is something of interest to a sizable number of people, outside of the medical community.

Migraines and pregnancy

Pregnant women who suffer with migraine could have an increased risk of miscarriage, caesarean sections and giving birth to a child with low birth weight, according to a new science study.

To reach this conclusion, Aarhus University researchers undertook a comprehensive register-based study. However, this concern can be addressed medically as the research suggests that prescription migraine drugs could alleviate the complications.

The findings are published in The Journal of Head and Face Pain, with the paper titled “Pregnancy, Birth, Neonatal, and Postnatal Neurological Outcomes After Pregnancy With Migraine.”

Opioids are not good for migraine treatment

The use of opioids can introduce temporary relief for migraines, but a prolonged intake can make migraines worse, according to a medical inquiry from the University of Illinois at Chicago. In particular, opioid treatment can provide temporary pain relief for episodic migraines, yet prolonged use can increase the frequency and severity of painful migraines.

This appears due to the release of pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating peptide. This is a peptide that can induce migraines in migraine-prone individuals. Research suggests a changed number of peptides in the brain is connected with opioid overuse.

The findings appear in the publication Molecular and Cellular Proteomics, in the article “PACAP and other neuropeptides link chronic migraine and opioid-induced hyperalgesia in mouse models.”

What is a better treatment option? A separate study based on 4,222 patients supports the use of high dose aspirin from 900 to 1,300 milligrams to treat acute migraine as well as low dose daily aspirin from 81 to 325 milligrams to prevent recurrent attacks.

Migraines and dementia

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A body of medical research has found a connection between migraine headaches and dementia. This is because migraine headaches involve chronic pain, and this pain has been found to significantly impact upon the risk of memory decline and dementia

These studies may not, however, be as exacting as they first appear. A meta-study finds that too many medical studies fail to simultaneously adjust for common comorbidities. This leads to the introduction of bias into the findings. The outcome indicates that further research is needed into this possible connection.

The meta-study has been published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (“Association Between Migraine Headaches and Dementia in More than 7,400 Patients Followed in General Practices in the United Kingdom”).

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