This Next-Level Migraine Treatment Could Change Your Life

Illustrated by Jenny Kraemer.
A migraine is not just a horrible headache; for sufferers, it’s a chronic condition that greatly impedes their way of life. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, “about 18% of American women and 6% of men suffer from migraines,” and attacks often come with an array of symptoms, including nausea, dizziness, and sensitivity to touch, sound, and light. However, thanks to research presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology's Annual Scientific Meeting, relief might be on the way — in the form of a nasal spray. Lead study author and radiologist at Albany Medical Center, Kenneth Mandato, MD, told CBS News that through this new, "minimally invasive treatment option," sufferers appear to be relieved from their migraine — at least temporarily. According to CBS reporter Alan Mozes, the nasal spray works via a "spaghetti-sized" catheter, which is inserted into each nostril. Then, he continues, the procedure “delivers the anesthetic lidocaine (Xylocaine) directly to nerves in the back of the nasal cavity.” While it is an outpatient procedure, catheters up your nostril certainly don't sound like the ideal (or most simple) treatment. Still, it is a valid alternative to taking medication for years.  Migraine treatments currently available include preventive medication, pain medication, or management of trigger factors — such as bright sunlight, red wine, or MSG. Dr. Mandato's research, however, may have found a much longer-lasting method: Of the study participants who underwent the nasal-spray procedure, 88% needed less pain meds than they would usually require. The research team also concluded that just one of these treatments could lessen migraine pain by about 35% — even for an entire month afterwards.  The treatment didn’t relieve everyone, however; about 6% of patients received no benefit from this spray, and the study authors also acknowledge that the spray is merely a temporary solution. In order to see whether it will hold up over the long-term, the researchers will also examine study participants at a six-month follow-up. At the moment, this is certainly not the type of nasal spray you can self-administer, so don't expect to get it over-the-counter anytime soon. But, it does mean there is relief on the horizon. 

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