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Migraine Compounding

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Most people do not know this but migraines rank in the top 20 of the world’s most disabling illnesses. What makes this statistics worse is that migraines are unfortunately a common occurrence, affecting over 10 percent of the world’s population.

A migraine does not refer to a simple headache where you can be able to work your way through it and tolerate the pain. Migraines are severe headaches that either come suddenly or present warning signs before occurring. During migraines, the lights all of a sudden seem too bright, the tiniest of noises becomes too loud, and it feels like a hammer is constantly being banged inside your head.

The main problem associated with migraines is that they affect a person’s professional and personal life. This is because people suffering from migraines do not feel like doing anything and would much rather crawl into bed and sleep the pain away. Let us take a deeper look into migraines, the symptoms, causes, and forms of treatment that patients can seek.

Symptoms

A migraine is a complex condition with a variety of symptoms the most common one being a very painful headache. If you have ever suffered from this condition at one point in your life then you will most probably go through it again unless of course you seek proper treatment. This is because migraines are a reoccurring condition. The following are symptoms of migraines:

  • Visual disturbances: Visual disturbances or auras (the commonly used terms) are warning signs that indicate the coming of a severe headache. These symptoms normally occur on both eyes and include sudden eye pain, blurred vision, temporary blind spots, colored spots, flashing lights, stars, and zigzag lines. Another symptom is tunnel vision – defective sight in which objects cannot be seen properly unless brought close to the eyes. Other aura symptoms may include speech difficulty, lack of concentration, nausea, dizziness, a feeling of spinning, yawning, weakness, and numbness, or tingling.
  • Severe pain: After the warning signs comes the migraine headache itself. The intensity of the pain varies from one person to the next. However, it mostly occurs on one side of the head felt either behind the eyes, or at the back of the head and neck. Reoccurring migraines start on the same side of the head each time. Symptoms of migraines can be classified as a throbbing, pulsating, or pounding pain that is worse on one side of the head. It normally begins as a dull ache and gains momentum to become an unbearable and painful headache within a span of minutes or hours. The duration of the pain greatly varies and can last for 6 to 48 hours or even over 72 hours as in the case of Stratus Migrainosus. Other symptoms that accompany the headache include sweating, chills, fatigue, increased urination, loss of appetite, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.

Symptoms vary greatly from one person to the next. Some patients have reported changes in memory, fear, confusion, partial paralysis, and fainting during the aura stage. In addition, the speech and hearing of other patients may be affected.

Symptoms tend to linger after the headache has passed. These migraine symptoms are commonly referred to as the ‘migraine hangover symptoms.’ They include mental dullness, lack of clear or sharp thinking, neck pain, and sleepiness.

Causes

What causes migraines? Well this question has no clear-cut answer but several schools of thought do exist, which provide varied explanations. Migraines are as a direct result of abnormal brain activity that can be triggered by several factors. According to medical experts, the attack involves nerve pathways and chemicals and begins in the brain. This leads to changes in the normal functioning of the brain, which in turn affects the flow of vital blood to the cerebral tissues. A chemical found in the brain known as Serotonin decreases when migraines occur. The drop of this chemical causes blood vessels in the brain to contract suddenly, which then leads to aura symptoms. Once the blood vessels finally widen the severe headache then occurs. The complete list of causes of migraines is quite extensive and greatly differs from one person to the next. However, below are some of the most common causes that trigger migraines:

  • Genes: Single gene disorders that cause migraines are quite rare but they exist. Medical studies have linked four genes that are involved in ‘familial hemiplegic migraine’. This is a type of severe headache occurring in the aura stage, which can be passed on through family generations. In addition, some genetic disorders can cause migraines.
  • Food: There are some foods that may be safe to eat but triggers migraines in people who suffer from the condition. For instance, citrus fruits, though commonly associated with healthy living, are forbidden from severe headache sufferers as they contain high levels of tyramine, which triggers an attack. Other foods that have been known to trigger migraines include ice cream, alcohol, chocolate, processed meats, cheese, and caffeine. Caffeine containing drinks can be a little confusing when it comes to migraines. This is because while the drinks trigger migraines in some patients, for others it actually helps to alleviate the pain. Foods containing monosodium glutamate and aspartame have also been known to cause migraines. As a form of preventative treatment, patients suffering from migraines are usually advised by their doctors to keep off foods that they know trigger an attack.
  • Environmental triggers: Migraines can be brought about by exposure to environmental conditions such as thick smoke from fires, cigarette smoke, changes in weather, and a change in atmospheric pressure. Other environmental triggers include loud noise, flickering screens, bright lights, a stuffy atmosphere, and strong smells.
  • Psychological triggers: Strong emotions such as anxiety, excitement, shock, stress, tension, and depression can trigger migraines.
  • Hormones: Migraines are more common in women than in men. Most migraines in women are triggered by a change in hormone levels. A huge number of women who experience migraines get the attack during pregnancy or at the time of their period.

Other causes of migraines are low blood sugar, poor posture, long trips, too much physical activity, medicine, lack of proper sleep, and tension on the neck or shoulders.

The Different Stages of Migraines

Migraines have four well-defined stages with each one varying in duration and severity from one patient to another. However, people who suffer from this condition do not go through all the stages. These stages are outlined below.

  • Premonitory: The premonitory or prodromal stage occurs in about 60% of all people who suffer from migraines and can last for 1 hour to 2 days before finally moving on to the next phase. Symptoms of this stage include mood swings, thirst, craving for certain foods, tiredness, stiff neck, and sensitivity to smell and sound.
  • Aura: The aura phase can occur before or during the headache and does not last for more than one hour. The symptoms include visual disturbances and sensory symptoms such as numbness.
  • Pain: The pain phase or the main attack stage consists of a one sided throbbing pain in the head. The intensity of the pain varies with the most severe one rendering the patient unable to move. This stage can last for as long as 3 days. It is normally accompanied by a few extra symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, sound, and smell.
  • Postdrome: The postdrome stage occurs as an after effect of the pain phase and may persist for a few days. During this stage, patients report a feeling of being hung over and tired. Other symptoms of this phase include weakness, mood changes, cognitive difficulties, and mild pain in the affected side of the head.

Various Forms of Migraine Treatment

Millions of people worldwide suffer from migraines either once at some point in their lives or from time to time in patients who suffer from recurring headaches. There is no cure for migraines; however, migraine treatment helps make the condition more manageable. The treatment aims at preventing symptoms, treating symptoms right away, or avoiding or changing triggers. There are three levels of the treatment, which are listed below:

  • Preventative treatment: This form of treatment aims at preventing migraines from occurring. Preventative treatment is ideal for people who suffer from migraines regularly despite undertaking several attempts to stop the headache permanently. Doctors usually come in handy as they are capable of studying the patient and conducting several test to choose the most suitable and effective treatment. Migraine medication can include medicines that fall under the category of, antidepressants, antihistamines, anti-inflammatory drugs, beta-blockers, and anticonvulsants. The right preventative medication for migraines leads to a significant decrease in the number of attacks and is usually taken over a specified period. Whatever improvement brought about by the medicine, treatment continues until the patient completes the prescribed dosage. This medication helps to break the cycle of migraines. A few examples of preventative medicines for this condition include Magnesium, Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), and Riboflavin (Vitamin B2¬). Magnesium is one of the essential mineral elements in the body with studies showing that some people suffer from migraines because of magnesium deficiency. In such cases, magnesium medication is very effective in preventing migraines. Riboflavin helps to improve the way in which oxygen is metabolized in the brain and as result is used to treat migraines. CoQ10 helps to facilitate and control chemical reactions in the brain. A study conducted on the effectiveness of CoQ10 showed that patients suffering from migraines experienced a 50% decrease on the frequency of the attacks upon taking the medicine. The effects of CoQ10 kick in after one month with the drug being most effective when taken for a period of 3 months.
  • Acute or symptomatic treatment: This form of treatment treats the various symptoms of migraines as soon an attack begins. The treatment does not stop the pain but instead it helps to reduce the length and severity of the attack. Doctors prescribing acute treatments base their decision on the severity of the attack and not on how often the migraines occur. Based on individual assessment, a doctor can prescribe a combination of effective medications, which can be found in drug stores. This prevents the patient from having to see the doctor every time an attack occurs. Keeping track of the effectiveness of the prescribed medication is important as it allows the doctor to increase the dosage or come up with another combination if the desired effect is not attained.
  • Rescue treatment: This form of treatment is used to deal with migraines if acute treatment fails. When acute treatment does not provide enough relief doctors further study the patient to come up with medications that are more effective. The prescribed medicines of this treatment aim at relieving pain and other symptoms such as vomiting.

Why Choose Extempia Compounding Specialists

Extempia Compounding Specialists have a state of the art compounding pharmacy that prepares a combination of effective medications as prescribe by the doctor. Therefore, if you are looking for a specifically compounded migraine medication, you can find help from Extempia Compounding. The various custom-made compounded medicines for the treatment of migraines are blended in forms that are easy to administer even when the patient is suffering from nausea. Also on offer at Extempia Compounding are Magnesium, Riboflavin, and CoQ10 migraines preventative medicines. These medicines are available in capsule and suspensions.

Extempia Compounding Specialists have a state of the art compounding laboratory and sterile room.

At Extempia Compounding, you are assured of safety and quality. The main priority at Extempia Compounding is to improve your quality of life by offering safe, and effective medicines for migraines and much more. Therefore, the compounding pharmacists of this facility strictly follow detailed standard operating procedures to ensure that every single medicine or compounded batch is pure, safe, and effective.

Have a question or like some more information? Talk to one of our friendly compounding pharmacists on 07 3844 3086 or fill out the contact form.

  • Professional Compounding Chemists of Australia
  • The Pharmacy Guild of Australia
  • Quality Care Pharmacy Program