Wednesday, July 22, 2009

You're Not Alone: Migraine Disease & GI issues

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The more we learn about migraine disease, the more we recognize where it overlaps with other illnesses. Research has helped determine the role of the gastrointestinal issues experienced by many migraineurs in migraine disease.

Most of us realize nausea and vomiting are part and parcel of a migraine attack. In the past, researchers have speculated that nausea and vomiting were due to gastric stasis, the delayed emptying of the stomach, which was thought to be a symptom of an acute migraine attack. However, it is now believed that gastric stasis is instead a feature of migraine disease itself, much like the stabbing one-sided pain so many of us experience. Though it is not as often acknowledged as nausea and vomiting, diarrhea is also common among migraineurs.

I have been dealing with these issues far too often since migraines became a regular fixture in my day to day life. For years I was far too embarrassed to discuss this with any of my doctors. However, when I became unable to eat anything without almost immediately feeling extremely nauseated, followed by horrible bouts of diarrhea, I knew I had to listen to my husband when he urged me to discuss this with my doctor.

There are a variety of medications available that can quite effectively relieve the nausea, vomiting and diarrhea migraineurs often suffer. Some are available in orally disintegrating tablets or suppositories to make it easier to get them into your system when you're sick.

Triptan formulations that don't rely on the stomach or digestion to work can be very helpful, too. Imitrex is available in a nasal spray and injection. Zomig is available in an orally disintegrating tablet and a nasal spray. Maxalt is also available in an orally disintegrating tablet. The DHE product Migranal is in nasal spray form. Researchers are currently developing a sumatriptan skin patch and an orally inhaled DHE product.

For more information, I highly recommend this article on the topic prepared by Teri Robert:

Nausea, Gastric Stasis, and Migraine

Migraine - New Study Supports Importance Of Considering Gastric Stasis
Study Supports Important Insights About Gastric Motility in Migraine Patients
Changes in Peripheral Mechanisms in Migraine

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DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this site constitutes medical or legal advice. I am a patient who is engaged and educated and enjoys sharing my experiences and news about migraines, pain and depression. Please consult your own health care providers for advice on your unique situation.