Migraines, Inflammation, and Immune HomeostasisPosted on Wednesday, July, 24th, 2013 by in Chronic Disease | Inflammation | Migraines
Migraine headaches are often characterized by excruciating throbbing pain on one side of the head, which may switch to a different side from episode to episode. Individuals may also experience severe pain in/or over one or both eyes, or in their sinuses. Nausea, vomiting, disturbed vision, and increased sensitivity to light and sound may also occur. Migraine headaches can last for hours or even days, and may reoccur, daily, weekly, or monthly.
Preventing the onset of a migraine, or decreasing its frequency or severity appears to be the best strategy because once a headache starts to occur on a daily basis, treatment options are few. This makes it important to take action before this point is reached.
Migraines are difficult to study, because in between episodes, the person is basically healthy and researchers have been unable to find a biomarker that is the hallmark of the condition. Unfortunately, many patients go from doctor to doctor trying to find migraine relief.
Some people can identify triggers for their migraines, while others find no association. However, even with those that have known triggers, avoiding triggers does not always prevent their migraines.
Some triggers that people report are: allergic responses, emotional or physical stress, certain odors or perfumes, loud noises, bright lights, sleep disturbances, exposure to smoke or smoking, alcohol, fasting, hormonal changes, and certain foods.
Besides medication, some methods used to reduce the frequency and severity of migraines are: massage of temples, neck, shoulders, and back, head and neck stretches, acupuncture, stress reduction, biofeedback training, Botox® injections, stimulator devices, staying hydrated, and eliminating specific foods. Unfortunately these techniques rely on a trial and error method.
Several studies have found that people who exercise have fewer, shorter, and less severe migraines than those who are not active, but other individuals report that physical activity merely acts as a trigger for their migraines.
In women of a reproductive age, and in children, obesity often increases the number of migraines they experience. Fat cells produce inflammatory immune molecules. These immune factors may result in increasing the severity, duration, and frequency of migraine attacks.
Inflammation protects the body from pathogens. But the amount of inflammation produced has to be carefully regulated by the body, otherwise innocent bystander organs and tissues are attacked. When the body produces the correct amount of inflammation, it is in immune homeostasis, immune balance.
Disruptive levels of inflammation in the body contribute to migraine pain. Therefore, taking steps which lower inflammation, such as exercise, nutritional intervention, and weight reduction, helps the body reduce unhealthy levels of inflammation and change the quality of life of individuals.