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Migraine Research Foundation Announces Recipients of 2011 Grants

The Migraine Research Foundation, which raises funds to research the causes and mechanisms of migraine, improve treatments, and find a cure for this little-understood but debilitating illness, has announced the recipients of their 2011 grants. From the MRF:

This year’s grantees will explore ground-breaking inquiries in the areas of chronic migraine treatment, genetic sequencing and basic science. In addition to these research projects, MRF has awarded a grant to award-winning filmmakers Jacki Ochs and Susanna Styron to help fund their feature-length documentary, The Migraine Project.

The four grants were selected from 34 proposals submitted from around the world and represent innovative approaches to unraveling the mysteries of migraine in different ways.

MRF’s 2011 research grantees are:

Andrea Antal, PhD and Walter Paulus, MD
Georg-August University,Göttingen, Germany
Transcranial Alternating Current Stimulation for the  Acute Treatment of Migraine
Studying the effects of inhibitory transcranial alternating current stimulation as an effective non-pharmaceutical acute treatment for chronic migraine.

F. Michael Cutrer, MD
The Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN
Whole Exome Sequencing as a Strategy for Gene Discovery in a Large Well Characterized Family with Migraine
Using the newest sequencing technology for gene discovery in migraine.

Michael S. Gold, PhD
University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Calcium Activated Chloride Channels as a Novel Target for the Treatment of Migraine
Determining the molecular identity of the ion channels that underlie pain receptor sensitization and blocking them as a first step in the development of a novel target for migraine treatment.

Jacki Ochs and Susanna Styron
Human Arts Association, New York, NY
The Migraine Project

A feature length documentary designed to increase awareness and understanding of migraine for a world-wide audience.

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Are These Pre-migraine (Prodrome) Symptoms?

Dizziness, tremor, hot flashes, fatigue, cold hands and feet, mental fogginess, nausea, increased pulse. I was excited to discover this cluster of symptoms and thought them to be warning signs, also called prodrome, that a migraine was coming on. The earlier a migraine is detected, the earlier it can be treated, thus increasing the likelihood it can be aborted altogether. At least a dozen times, I took a triptan when I recognized these symptoms coming on and avoided the migraine pain completely. I’d feel funky for an hour or two, then feel much better. Yay for triptans, or so I thought.

Grocery shopping one day, the symptoms hit and I didn’t think to take a triptan. The symptoms were so severe that my cart functioned as a walker. I felt awful when I got to the car and knew I should go home. But I really, really, really wanted to go to Goodwill.

I pushed through, risking worsening the migraine. I put on a hat, sunglasses and earplugs to get through the store and my decision-making abilities were severely curtailed. Still, an hour passed and on my way home I felt better than I did before I went to the thrift store. So much better that I spent the afternoon cooking and cleaning.

I began experimenting with not taking a triptan when the symptoms hit. They still lasted for an hour or two and then lifted. Exactly the same pattern as when I medicated for migraine.

Are these migraine symptoms at all or is something else causing these flushes of autonomic distress? My doctor speculates medication side effects and I’m going off my antidepressants to see if that’s the case. I have to wonder if they are part of some other disorder, maybe adrenal or autonomic. Any ideas?

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Weird Migraine Symptoms: Earache, Sensitive Teeth & Eye Irritation

For years I have complained to my primary care providers that I have frequent earaches, but my ears always look perfect. I tell dentists that a few teeth are extremely sensitive to heat, cold and sweets, though the pain is inexplicably intermittent. I often wonder if I have a torn contact because one eye feels like there’s a grain of sand lodged in it. Yet I can never find an identifiable cause for the pain in my ears, teeth or eyes. At least, I couldn’t until my migraines turned from constant to cyclical. Turns out I only have the aforementioned symptoms when I have a migraine. Of course, when I had a migraine all the time, I had these symptoms all the time. Now that the migraines come and go, so do the other pains.

None of these particular complaints show up on the long list of little-known migraine symptoms, though they’ve come up in my conversations with other migraineurs. The majority of the world equates migraine with headache, but there’s so much more going on in this neurological disorder. If I could trade, I’d keep the pain if it meant I could get rid of the fatigue and fuzzy-headedness. (Not that I have any say in how the migraines behave.)

I wonder what other migraine symptoms have yet to be recognized. What are your unusual migraine symptoms? Do any of them bother you more than the pain part of the migraine?

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Migraine Hangover & Recovery Day

The five-day migraine let up! I’d like to be celebrating by cleaning the bathroom, but am instead still idle, waiting for the migraine hangover to pass. I’m sluggish, vaguely headachey and spacey while my body sorts itself after the “extreme neurologic disruption” (I just love that phrase) of a migraine episode. Though the symptoms vary from person to person, anyone who has had a migraine know exactly what I’m talking about (as evidenced by the 120+ comments on an earlier post). What are your migraine hangover symptoms?

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Migraine Linked to Depression, Anxiety and Other Mental Disorders

People with migraine are likely to have mood disorders, like major depression, anxiety and panic attacks. This is according to a new study, which supports findings of previous studies that have also shown the coexistence, or comorbidity, of migraine and these disorders.

From the current study’s press release (emphasis mine):

Mood Disorders, Migraines Might Be Connected

Migraine headaches can precede the onset of mental disorders, according to a growing body of knowledge that includes a new study in the January-February 2009 issue of General Hospital Psychiatry.

Together, migraine and mental disorders cause more impairment than alone,” said lead study author Gregory Ratcliffe. “Patients who have one condition should be assessed for the other so they can be treated holistically. Although it is important to know that both are present, treating one will have an effect on the other.”

Ratcliffe is with the department of psychiatry at the University of Manitoba in Canada. He and his colleagues analyzed data on 4,181 participants in the German National Health Interview and Examination Survey. Migraines were diagnosed by a physician and trained interviewers evaluated participants for mental disorders.

Researchers found that 11 percent of participants had migraines. Participants had a variety of disorders: major depression, general anxiety disorder, dysthymia, bipolar disorder, panic attacks, panic disorder, substance abuse disorders, agoraphobia and simple phobia.

The authors considered two theories that might explain the relationship between migraine and mental disorders. The first theory is that a common factor influences both conditions, such as low activity of enzymes that deactivate certain chemical messages sent to the brain. They also considered a causal relationship: This study and others found that anxiety often precedes migraine, which often precedes depression.

Frederick Taylor, M.D., director of the Park Nicollet Headache Clinic in St. Louis Park, Minn., said that migraine co-morbidities — depression, anxiety and other disorders — affect 83 percent of migraineurs and explain 65 percent of their inability to function in life, more than the pain itself.

My bouts of depression show this is true for me. It is also true for other headache bloggers, like Diana from Somebody Heal Me. How about you?