26 March 2012

Hormonal changes trigger migraines

Hormonal changes are a major reason women are far more likely than men to have migraine headaches, research suggests.


Hormonal changes are a major reason women are far more likely than men to have migraine headaches, research suggests.

Millions suffer from migraines, and women are nearly three times more likely to have them than men, the US National Headache Foundation data indicates.

"Hormonal changes are a big contributor to the higher female incidence," Dr Michael Moskowitz, a professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, said in a news release from the Society for Women's Health Research. "There are lines of evidence that support this from lab to clinical evidence and a decreased [although not abolished] incidence in postmenopausal females."

Women who experience migraines may find they often occur just before or just after the onset of menstruation. Also, women's patterns of migraines may change during pregnancy and/or menopause.

Many other factors can increase the risk of having migraine headaches for both men and women:

  • Heredity: People with a family history of the painful attacks, and especially those with one or more first-degree relatives with migraines, are at significantly increased risk.
  • Age: People typically experience migraines between the ages of 15 and 55, and the first attack usually occurs before age 40.
  • Medical conditions: Certain health problems, such as high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, stroke and epilepsy, have been associated with migraines.

Although there is no cure, migraines can be managed effectively with the help of a doctor. Many drugs are available for prevention and pain relief, and lifestyle changes can eliminate some triggers that cause migraines, Moskowitz said in the news release.

Read more:
Migraine blues

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about migraines.

(Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.)


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Dr Elliot Shevel is a South African migraine surgery pioneer and the founder and medical director of The Headache Clinic in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town, South Africa. The Headache Clinic is a multidisciplinary practice dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of Primary Headaches and Migraines. Dr Shevel is also the main author of all scientific publications generated by his team. He recently won a high level science debate in which he was able to prove that the current migraine diagnosis and classification is not based on data. Tertiary Education - Dr Shevel holds both Dental and Medical degrees, and practises as a specialist Maxillo-facial and Oral Surgeon. Follow the Headache Clinic on Twitter@HeadacheClinic.

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