Treatment News: Novel Inhaler Treatment Promises to Manage Migraines
One of the biggest challenges in managing migraine has to do with the side-effects of medications. Not only may long-term use of pain-killing NSAIDs like Aleve and Ibuprofen lead to cardiac effects, but other classes of drugs, such as triptans, can also lead to problems like drowsiness, nausea, and others.  No doubt some drugs may always be necessary; however, a recently developed approach promises to eradicate the need for drugs in treatment of migraine with aura.
According to Dr. Cecelia H. Fugelsang and her collaborators at the University of Aarhus in Denmark, a specialized “re-breathing” device may temper and even stop some migraine attacks.  This was what was found in a preliminary study published in the latest issue of the academic journal, Cephalalgia. Can the secret be an inhaler? Let’s take a closer look at this innovation and research.
Changing the Air
The thinking behind this approach is that by changing the composition of the air that is breathed, there will be positive effects in the managing of headache attack. How does that work? At the core of migraine is a disruption of blood circulation—and by extension oxygen delivery—to certain regions of the brain. As described by Dr. Troels Johansen, one of the researchers, the devices utilize “CO2 and oxygen,” which are “the body’s natural molecules for mobilizing its own defense against migraine attacks.” 
In essence, the team created a special, protype inhaler that promotes positive blood circulation to the brain, increasing the supply of oxygen by up to 70 percent.  This, in turn, stops that disruption that leads to migraine attack. According to the researchers, effects can be seen within seconds, and the infusion of oxygen to these parts of the brain almost immediately stops a headache at its root.
To test out this novel approach, Dr. Fugelsang and the team recruited 11 adult participants (eight women and three men), who experienced migraine with aura. They employed a randomized, double-blind approach, comparing use of the actual device with a sham one. In this research, 41 attacks were recorded, and 20 instances of inhaler use versus 21 instances of placebo were recorded.  Participants were to use devices for 20 minutes at a time at onset of symptoms.
Largely, the results were very positive; use of this inhaler seemed to take on migraine with aura attacks effectively. One measure they focused on did not achieve statistical significance—headache intensity difference between first aura and two hours after onset—however, the others did. User satisfaction was high, as well as overall percentage of pain felt after two hours. In fact, efficacy tended to grow alongside increased use, with 45 percent feeling effects the first time, but 78 percent the second one.  Clearly, this approach shows promise for these migraine cases.
The Bigger Picture
There is, of course, more work to be done when it comes to this approach to migraine treatment. First of all, as the authors acknowledged, it’s hard to generalize from such a small sample of patients.  In addition, the researchers and innovators here also emphasized that such a device would best be intended as an adjunctive therapy: something alongside migraine treatment. To be sure, too, this approach may not be effective for chronic migraineurs or those who don’t experience aura symptoms.
Nonetheless, this is a significant advance that adds to the pool of understanding surrounding migraine and points to further ways we can move when it comes to treatment. Any approach that helps the migraineur and reduces the need for pharmaceutical intervention is an overall positive. With research in this direction continuing, and treatments continuing to get better, the outlook for migraine sufferers is a positive one. A day is coming soon when headache sufferers can breathe easier.
If you suffer from chronic migraine—defined as 15 or more attacks per month—the team at Migraine Treatment Centers of America can help. Employing the groundbreaking Omega Procedure, they’ve helped countless sufferers effectively manage this debilitating condition. Learn more about what they do by calling 469-638-0207 today!
- “Migraine Drugs: Migraine Medications, Imitrex, Ergomar, Migranal”. 2018. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/migraine-drugs#triptans.
- Fugelsang, Cecelia H., Troels Johansen, Kai Kaila, Helge Kasch, and Flemming W. Bach. 2018. “Treatment Of Acute Migraine By A Partial Rebreathing Device: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study”. Journals.Sagepub.Com. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0333102418797285.
- “Migraine Can Be Treated Without Medicine, Pilot Study Finds”. 2018. Sciencedaily. Accessed November 28 2018. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/