Migraine headaches, the debilitating vascular malady that plagues approximately 8 percent of American women, has been identified as intensifying during peri-menopause, according to a new research study, as identified by study coauthor Richard B. Lipton, MD, director of the Montefiore Headache Center in New York. The results were published in the Headache medical journal, according to Pharmacy Today.
While it's known that certain things can contribute to the development of headache, the exact reasons for causation are unknown. It's known that certain things can contribute to a migraine such as lack of sleep, alcohol, aged cheeses, strong scents, missing meals, and stress. It has been noted that women tend to get migraines just prior to their periods, so a hormonal correlation has already been established.
For women, just prior to the start of menopause, estrogen levels drop. This leads to the cessation of ovulation and menstruation, along with myriad other issues such as breaking out in a sweat, irritability, and sometimes weight gain. Researchers noted that in the sample of women, which was over 3,000, the incidence of migraine days ten times or more a month went from 8 percent in the pre-menopausal group to 12.2 percent in the peri-menopausal group. After menopause was complete and hormones were situated, the incidence of migraine was still higher at 12 percent, meaning that there's a possibility that estrogen plays a protective factor against migraine headache, although the reasons for this possible correlation are unclear.
"If headache frequency and severity warrant preventive therapy, doctors can reassure patients that once the menopausal transition is complete, there is a good chance that preventive medicines will no longer be necessary."Preventive therapy in the past has included taking beta blockers, which seem to suppress vasospasm that trigger headaches but may lead to other problems such as low blood pressure, dizziness, and light-headedness. Other treatments, such as Imitrex, works well to stop a migraine in its tracks, but has been associated with cardiac problems in some patients. Botox has been a promising new therapy, essentially paralyzing blood vessels so that they cannot spasm, but this also carries a risk of allergic reaction or paralyzing muscles that are necessary to breathe properly.
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