January 18, 2020

The path to migraine relief may actually be through your nose!

What if the root of your migraine pain was not really in your head after all? What if it was tied to a completely different organ located on your face? You may immediately think it has something to do with your eyes since blurred vision, seeing auras, and light sensitivity are all symptoms of a severe migraine. You would be wrong. According to Houston doctor Kevin Smith, your migraine may be specifically tied to your nose! The Houston Chronicle interviewed Dr. Smith about his novel theory and his new book, The Migraine Imposter.

Dr. Smith, who is an ear, nose, and throat doctor, believes that many migraine sufferers are actually suffering from a deviated septum. This occurs when the cartilage separating the right and left airways becomes damaged or otherwise displaced. Dr. Smith thinks that this damaged septum can come in contact with sensitive tissue in the nose, thereby triggering headaches, such as migraines. He encourages individuals to visit a neurologist and get a MRI to reveal if any tumors or other abnormalities are present. If none are discovered, he believes that patients should then get a CT scan of their sinuses to look for signs of a deviated septum. If this is found Dr. Smith proposes a relatively easy and quick procedure that will not only repair the septum, but also possibly the migraine headaches. The twenty minute procedure called a septoplasty has resulted in ninety percent of Dr. Smith’s patients reporting relief from debilitating headaches.

Deviated septums, according to Dr. Smith, usually occur after some type of trauma to the nose. Additionally, he notes that many athletes who complain of severe headaches, but are constantly subjected to damaging trauma may in fact have a deviated septum. Even childhood accidents can lead to a damaged septum. Dr. Smith believes that if more people were tested for a deviated septum, not only would they feel relief from migraine pain, but would also save thousands of dollars on health care every year. Furthermore, individuals with migraines are recognized to have a disability if they are unable to continue working. He believes that more people will be able to continue working if they have their septums fixed and find migraine relief. Migraines are difficult to manage and can cause debilitating pain that have no identifiable cause. Hopefully, Dr. Smith’s hunch is correct and the way to relief is through your nose!

Study suggests that “distractions” like background noise make it harder for migraine sufferers to concentrate

One of the hallmarks of a severe migraine headache is a person’s sensitivity to light.  Often, when someone is suffering from one of these debilitating headaches, he/she seeks refuge in a darkened room, limiting as much light as possible, as well as avoiding any distractions.  Migraine sufferers can spend hours in the room, waiting for the pain to dissipate and adjusting to their environment again.  It can be so bad that some people must leave work to avoid the light and ride the migraine out.  Most individuals who have migraines note that light makes the headaches worse, and sometimes, it is that very light exposure that causes a migraine to occur.  But, why exactly is there a connection between light and the onset of a migraine? Two Scottish researchers set out to find out why and if this relationship really exists.

The research team divided study participants into two groups: one group had never suffered from migraines, while the other group consisted of individuals who experienced chronic migraines.  The participants were asked to focus on a small white light, while light noise played in the background.  This light noise was akin to the television static that comes on when the cable is out or programming is discontinued.  The researchers noted that when the background noise was not on, the healthy participants, as well as the migraine sufferers could each find the white light with little to no problems.  In this instance, those living with migraines did not complain of any difficulty or pain.  When the background was turned on, however, those migraine sufferers had a very difficult time finding the white light when compared with the healthy participants.  It is important to note that those who were prone to migraines were not suffering from any at the time of the study.

The researchers concluded that people who suffer from migraines recognize visual cues better when there are no distractions around, such as the background noise in the study.  What was surprising to the researchers is that this was true even when they were not suffering from migraines.  They concluded that migraine sufferers are likely at a disadvantage when they are attempting to focus on a particular object or details in a cluttered environment.  Unfortunately, our environment is chock full of objects, noise, lights, etc. that may prevent these individuals from being able to focus.  This may explain why being in a dark room devoid of distractions allows an individual with a migraine to focus better and relax their eyes, contributing to some pain relief.

This also may the reason people with migraines find it so difficult to maintain employment and will often file for Social Security Disability. The work environment often involves noise, light, other people’s perfumes, etc., so it’s no wonder migraine sufferers have such a tough time on the job.

If you suffer from migraines, you may benefit from decreasing the amount of distractions present in your environment – be it at work or at home.  Additionally, when a migraine hits, it is prudent to escape to a quiet, darkened room to ease the adjustment to all that is present around you. If your migraines are so bad that even these measures do not help you, it may be time to file for Social Security Disability.

Researchers explore link between migraines and Multiple Sclerosis

Last week, we discussed the potential for migraine sufferers to develop heart disease in addition to their already chronic, debilitating headaches.  Now, a new study presents evidence that women with a history of migraines may also be more prone to develop multiple sclerosis.  The study examined the relationship between migraines and multiple sclerosis, but it did not definitively conclude that migraines were risk factors or if they were simply an early symptom of the neurological disorder.  Although the overall risk for developing multiple sclerosis is relatively small among those living with migraines, this study does provide a great deal of insight regarding a possible link between the two.

The study, the first large-scale on of its kind, sought to recognize and understand the role that migraines play in the development of multiple sclerosis.  The research team examined data from 116,000 nurses who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study for sixteen years since 1989.  Researchers found that approximately 18,000 reported having migraines at the beginning of the study and 375 were eventually diagnosed with multiple sclerosis throughout the course of the study.  The research team then adjusted the data for those who already had risk factors for multiple sclerosis and concluded that having a history of migraines correlated to a forty-seven percent risk for developing the neurological disorder.  Those conducting the study already knew that women were twice as likely to develop multiple sclerosis as men, and three times as likely to suffer from migraines.  Both of these conditions are usually diagnosed before the age of fifty.  What the researchers did not know, however, was whether there was a clear association between migraines and multiple sclerosis.  It appears from this study that the two disabilities do correlate with one another somehow, although the actual reason behind the interplay is still unknown.  The research team published the conclusions of the study and plan to present the findings at the American Academy of Neurology meeting in April.  One part of the study that the researchers did not publish was the fact that being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis is associated with an increased risk of developing migraines.  As such, it seems that these conditions are linked in a particular manner, and it is a relationship that goes both ways.

This study is important to the millions who suffer with migraines and the many who must eventually file for social security disability benefits due to their inability to work.  This information may help their cause because if migraines are linked to the development of yet another disability, such as multiple sclerosis, examiners and judges are much more likely to recognize the chronic, debilitating effects.  The study is also important because knowing that migraines are part of multiple sclerosis will help in recommending the correct treatment option.  If you suffer from migraines or multiple sclerosis, and feel that you may be developing symptoms of the other, please visit your doctor for an accurate diagnosis and therapy.