How Testing Blood Protein Levels Could Pave The Way For Predicting And Treating Migraines

If you are one of the 12% of people on the planet who suffer from migraines (via Medical News Today), the results of a new study, published in the journal Nature Communications, may hold promise for new treatment options.

According to Medical News Today, the causes of migraines are complicated. Health experts believe genetics play a role and involve complex combinations of possibly hundreds of genes. Additionally, certain lifestyle factors can trigger migraines, such as stress, drinking alcohol or caffeine, a lack of or too much sleep, weather, intense physical activity, and more (per Mayo Clinic).

To see if there may be clues in our blood that suggest the likelihood of migraines and headaches, the study focused on specific proteins. The study's findings revealed that there are several specific protein markers that may, in fact, be associated with causing migraines, which could help determine someone's migraine risk and support a diagnosis. Dale Nyholt, a study author and professor in the School of Biomedical Sciences at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia told Medical News Today that identifying these blood proteins could also lead to new migraine treatments.

The study had some limitations, including its narrow focus on European populations, meaning the data may not be the same for other groups. The study also did not analyze possible migraine-specific proteins in tissue. However, the researchers believe this could be a pathway to new therapeutic drugs and will continue to investigate this area in the hope that future research will confirm these findings, per Medical News Today.

Current methods for treating migraines

There are two categories of headaches — primary and secondary, according to Cleveland Clinic. Migraines are categorized as primary headaches and considered a neurological disease, while secondary headaches are related to other health issues. Warning signs that a migraine may soon occur include constipation, craving certain foods, mood swings, and increased urination, among others (via Mayo Clinic). When a bad migraine occurs, it could lead to nausea, fatigue, tingling, temporary loss of vision, painful throbbing, and other unpleasant symptoms. 15% to 20% of migraine sufferers also experience auras, or groupings of speech, sensory, and motor symptoms such as ringing in the ears, the appearance of bright flashing lights, and changes in taste or smell, per Cleveland Clinic. An aura is typically a warning sign that a migraine is imminent.

While migraines cannot be cured, they can be managed — and potentially improved — through either abortive or preventative medication treatments, explains Cleveland Clinic. Abortive medications should be taken as soon as you think a migraine is starting. However, if you suffer from severe migraines, your healthcare provider may prescribe preventive medications, or prophylactics, that you would take on a regular basis. If you have mild or moderate migraines, over-the-counter Excedrin, Advil, and Motrin migraine medications may help provide relief. If you need a prescription, there are numerous options. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best medication, or combination of medications for your situation.