I was compensated by Med-IQ through an educational grant from Allergan to write about the
realities of migraine as a neurologic disease. All opinions are my own.
Let’s face it, the holidays alone are full of stress-inducing moments. Throw in a global pandemic,
financial strain and a crazy election year, surely making it an extra stressful holiday season.
And since December marks the ninth month of the pandemic and peak holiday season, it’s so
important that we are aware of our levels of stress especially as it relates to migraine triggers.
Here’s why: You might recall over the summer, we’ve teamed up with MedIQ (an accredited
medical education company that provides an exceptional educational experience for physicians,
nurses, pharmacists, and other healthcare professionals), to help generate awareness around
migraine symptoms and treatments. We learned about migraines being common but often
misdiagnosed and helped Med-IQ with distributing a survey. And based on the survey results so
far, here’s what we’ve learned:
• 86% of respondents have never formally been diagnosed with migraine
• Biggest triggers: stress (84%), weather (60%), and insomnia (72%)
Migraine is not a one-size-fits-all disease
Additionally, a theme that emerged was that a “migraine is not a one-size-fits-all disease.” And
that it's important to be aware of all the prescription treatment options available while keeping in
mind that certain medicines work for some people and not for others. We also learned that we
should have realistic treatment expectations as migraine is rarely, if ever, cured, but can be
What to Do If A Migraine Crashes Your Holidays?
This month can be a very stressful one, particularly with changes to traditions and rituals due to
the pandemic, stress or sadness over not being able to see family members or attend holiday
parties, and other factors. Making it that much more important to be aware of stress as a
potential migraine trigger. So what can we do? We can be proactive by creating a treatment
plan with our physician. The treatment plan should be in place to help minimize migraine-related
stress and anxiety.
New Treatments Available
Be sure to also discuss the new treatment options available now that have been approved by
the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
• Ditans and gepants (aka CGRP antagonists) are new migraine treatments.
• Gepants UBRELVY (ubrogepant) and NURTEC (rimegepant) and ditan REYVOW (lasmiditan)
are newly available to treat acute migraines (as they happen).
According to an interview with Dr. Jessica Ailani, Director of the MedStar Georgetown Headache Center and Professor of Clinical Neurology at Georgetown University Hospital, “Ditans and gepants are both medicines that can be taken as needed and swallowed in pill form or as a dissolvable tablet at the onset of an attack to treat symptoms like headache pain, light/sound sensitivity, nausea, and vomiting.” Unlike triptans, ditans don’t affect blood vessels and can be an option for patients who don’t respond well to triptans or don’t like the side effects of triptans. One consideration,
however, is that ditans are a controlled substance and will limit patients’ ability to drive a
car for 8 hours. Gepants are a once-daily treatment with low side effects; some patients report
dry mouth, but there are no overuse problems with gepants.
What Are The New Treatments Intended For?
● Patients with 4 migraines per month, or 8 or more headache days per month
● Patients who experience intolerable side effects from other treatments
● Patients who haven’t responded to other preventive treatments
Additionally, here’s a list of suggestions to reduce some of that holiday stress.
1. Spend time outdoors
2. Don’t overschedule
3. Listen to music that makes you smile
4. Try not to compare your holidays to others
5. Exercise (even a simple walk around the neighborhood can do wonders.)
We hope this information helps minimize your migraine-related stress especially during the
holidays. If you’d like to learn more about new treatment options, please watch the Facebook
Live interview with Dr. Amaal Starling, Associate Professor of Neurology and Consultant in the
Department of Neurology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science.
Advocate For Yourself And Loved Ones
It’s so important to debunk the notion that a migraine is “just a headache” and that “migraine is
not a one-size-fits-all disease.” Let’s become advocates for ourselves and/or our loved ones and
speak up. Let’s learn to track symptoms and triggers to help guide discussions with healthcare
How We Can All Help
Med-IQ is conducting an anonymous survey and would appreciate your input. The survey will
take less than 10 minutes to complete. Survey responses are shared only in aggregate. Your
responses to these survey questions will provide Med-IQ with important information about your
experiences with migraine and related care, which will help us develop future educational
initiatives in this area. Once you’ve completed the survey, you will have the option of providing
your email address to be entered into a drawing administered by SOMA Strategies to win 1 of
10 $100 VISA gift cards. If you choose to enter, your email address will be used only to
randomly draw the winners and notify them of their prize. Enter here
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