Dealing with migraines


Debilitating condition affects millions

PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Just about all of us get headaches on occasion but for 28 million Americans, those headaches are chronic and debilitating. They suffer from classic migraine headaches.

The number of people suffering from migraines is equal to those with diabetes and asthma combined. Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller spoke with a local neurologist about the importance of knowing the symptoms of migraines and what to do to get through them.

Tension headaches can be a hassle that sometimes improve with activity but it’s quite another story when it comes to debilitating migraines.

“If you do activity with a migraine, you’re going to be in bad shape. It’s going to get worse,” said Commonwealth Health Neurologist and Headache Specialist Philip Savia.

Many of Dr. Savia’s patients get a visual warning called an aura that a migraine is about to hit.

“And it’s usually spots or zig-zags or prisms in their vision and that gives them about a 30-minute window,” Dr. Savia said.

While migraines are not typically harmful, they can stop patients cold in their tracks. Dr. Savia said, “The headache is either moderate or severe, it’s usually throbbing. It can be one-sided usually and it’s associated with nausea or vomiting and light noise sensitivity.”

Dr. Savia treats migraine patients for their symptoms but says preventive measures are just as important. He displayed one of the CGRP drugs that comes in an injectable pen and explained, “It’s pretty simple so patients can self-inject.” The once-a-month medication reduces levels of the molecule CGRP which is a neuroinflammatory peptide in the brain. People who suffer multiple migraines a month often have it.

Something Dr. Savia said is just as important for migraine sufferers besides medicine is behavior modification.

“The simple things are that if you know you have a food or a stressor that triggers your migraine, avoid those things. That’s probably the best treatment,” Dr. Savia said.

Dr. Savia says migraines do have a genetic connection and most of the time it comes from mom. He also says women tend to grow out of their migraines in their 50s. For men, it’s in their 60s.

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