Migraines Essay

This essay has a total of 722 words and 4 pages.

Migraines


Migraine headaches are the result of a disturbance in the neurochemistry of the central
nervous system. They are relatively common, affecting three times as many women as men.
Migraine sufferers typically report a definite pattern to their headaches, and they can
report what stimuli bring them on. Most migraine sufferers experience their first attack
before the age of 20. There is no single cause of migraines, but the tendency to get
migraines does tend to run in families. When a migraine occurs, it means that something
has altered several of the neurotransmitter-sensitive receptors located on the outside
surface of the nerve cells (neurons) so that the nervous system is no longer able to
constantly maintain the natural balance that the nervous system is intended to maintain.

Neurotransmitters are chemicals that nerve cells (neurons) use to communicate messages to
each other. Receptors are special areas that receive these chemical messages. The key
neurotransmitter in migraine is called serotonin (often referred to in the scientific
literature as 5-HT or 5-hydroxytryptophan). If something interferes with the normal
functioning (production, release, receptor docking, and/or re-uptake) of serotonin, that
disrupts the normal functioning of the nervous system and can lead to various symptoms
associated with migraine.

The severe pain associated with migraine occurs when the mechanism that normally inhibits
and/or mediates pain is disabled. There is no actual tissue damage occuring during a
migraine attack. Instead, the pain results from a deranged neurochemistry. Migraine pain
is like a loud fire alarm bell ringing when there is no fire. Scientists suspect that
a caffeine withdrawal could be the possible cause of common migraines. Why? Well, caffeine
is a powerful psychoactive drug that is addictive. Caffeine withdrawals produce all the
same symptoms as migraine. Chronic caffeine use causes a number of changes to the central
nervous system. Caffeine use increases the number of some types of serotonin receptors and
some types of adenosine receptors as well.

Adenosine is another neurotransmitter; adenosine strongly inhibits serotonin release.
Chronic caffeine use increases the number of adenosine receptors.(The body is trying to
compensate for the constant presence of caffeine, which occupies and blockades adenosine
receptors and thus interferes with adenosine reception.) When caffeine is withdrawn,
however, the chronic caffeine user is left with too many adenosine receptors. Having too
many adenosine receptors is equivalent to having too much adenosine. As a result,
serotonin release is inhibited and this leads to migraine symptoms.

As you know there are many drugs used against migraine. Many of these drugs contain
caffeine, for good reason: caffeine relieves migraine by reversing caffeine withdrawal.
Migraine drugs that contain caffeine include Fiorinal (40mg caffeine), Fioricet (40mg
caffeine), Excedrin (65mg caffeine), Anacin (32mg caffeine), Cafergot, Norgesic Forte
(60mg caffeine), and others.

Continues for 2 more pages >>




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