A migraine is a type of a headache that can proceed for hours or even days. It is mostly accompanied by various small illnesses such as; feeling of nausea, tingling sensation on the arms and legs, blind spots and sometimes high sensitivity towards sound and light.
Following a research study conducted by Michigan researchers at the University of Michigan, it was found that acute levels of dopamine dropped down in cases of a migraine. This discovery will greatly help in coming up with more advanced treatments.
Dopamine can be described as a type of chemical substance that is responsible for transmitting various kinds of emotions, motivations and also sensory perception. It is one of the chemicals located in the brain that helps in regulating signals between the nerve cells of the brain.
How common are migraines?
Migraines have been known to affect more women than men. They affect about 12% of the American population. It was also discovered that migraine headache seemed to attack I in every 4 households.
From the research conducted by the Michigan University, scientists discovered that the levels of dopamine seem to decrease significantly during migraines of the patients. This was done by measuring the brain activities together with the level of dopamine before and during migraines.
What are the causes of migraines?
Even though the precise cause of migraines is yet to be determined, it can be deduced due to be from the instability of dopamine levels. As noted, dopamine is the main neurotransmitters responsible for controlling sensory sensitivities. Kenneth Casey, a professor of neurology at Michigan University stated that a small decrease in the level of dopamine in the brain can trigger high sensory sensitivity such that excruciating pain can be developed from otherwise normally painless sensory signals from the muscles, blood vessels and even skin.
In addition to that, migraine patients can be observed to suffer from migraine attacks during physical or emotional stress, tension, allergic reactions and others due to exposure to smoke.
It was also noted that there was a mild increase in the levels of dopamine when the patients seemed to take a rest or sleeping but would experience adverse symptoms when a warm cloth was placed on the foreheads. This observation is known as allodynia. Allodynia was noted to occur when a painless impulse occur it seemed to inflict pain.
How can migraines be managed?
The on-going treatment for migraines consists of giving migraine patients antagonist of dopamine. These are the drugs that are known to prevent overactive dopamine receptors from decreasing the levels of the dopamine thus stabilizing the migraine pains. This instability of the dopamine levels can be linked to development of migraines. During migraine attacks, it is best recommended for the patient to take some time for one and slow down his movements and activities. Alex DaSilva the assistant professor at the University of Michigan, urges the patients during migraine attacks to proceed into a dim or gloomy room or place and avoid any forms of stimulation.
This discovery could further improve the currents treatments of the migraines.