Newly Approved Migraine Medicine Focuses Attention on Headaches

Recently, Reyvow (lasmiditan) tablets for the acute treatment of migraine headaches in adults were approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While Reyvow is not preventative, it is expected to relieve symptoms.

About twelve percent of Americans experience migraines.  In one recent year, 20.0% of women and 9.7% of men aged 18 years and older had a severe headache or migraine in the preceding 3 months, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Types of Migraine Headaches

The term “migraine” describes a headache that recurs, often on one side of the head. The pain is throbbing or pulsing and may cause or exacerbate nausea, weakness and sensitivity to light and sound.

The two types of migraines are primary and secondary. Primary means that the headache is the problem on its own and “ice pick,” “jabs and jolts,” and “needle in the eye,” are phrases often used to describe it.

Secondary migraines are the result of another condition that causes the intense pain.


Migraines have four common phases and it is possible not to experience all of them during the time the headache occurs. The prodrome stage, often called pre-headache, may include symptoms such as irritability, frequent urination, yawning, trouble sleeping and nausea. Food cravings and difficulty reading or concentrating may also arise during prodrome. Prodrome last from hours to days preceding the headache.

Closer to the onset of the headache, an aura may occur, causing difficulty seeing, temporary loss of sight and tingling or numbness in the body.

The headache itself may last from four to seventy-two hours and in addition to the discomfort mentioned above, a burning sensation, neck pain and stiffness and anxiety may also occur.

Postdrome, the stage that appears after the headache, may bring lack of concentration, depressed or euphoric mood and fatigue.

Who Is Most at Risk?

Women are three times more likely to experience migraines than men. People with a family medical history that includes migraines are often more susceptible, as are those suffering from certain other conditions. Those conditions could include epilepsy, depression, bipolar disorder and sleep disorders.

What Causes Migraines?

In addition to the risk factors, there are certain triggers that bring the migraines on at a certain time. They may be stress, loud noises, anxiety, strong smells, over exertion or medicines. Too much caffeine or caffeine withdrawal could be triggers, as well as skipped meals, sudden weather changes, tobacco or certain foods.

Ways to Lower Risk

Knowing what triggers stimulate migraines is essential to anyone who experiences them. Avoiding foods such as chocolate, cheese or dairy products may work for some while adding or deleting caffeine from the diet may help others. Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule helps, as does learning what may trigger stress and how to deal with those things. Dehydration is a common trigger so staying hydrated becomes more important for migraine sufferers. It may also be wise to avoid too much light, another frequent trigger, and reducing the possibility of being near certain smells. Weather can’t be avoided but knowing when to be outside beyond controlled heat and air temperatures is helpful.

Treatment Options

Aside from the medicine recently approved by the FDA, other medications are available including analgesics and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory).  An ergotamine, an alkaloid that causes some blood vessel constriction, may also be prescribed, as well as other non-medicine therapies. Physical therapy, massage, acupuncture and yoga may be recommended by a physician. Other non-medicine treatments include Tai Chi, biofeedback and hypnotherapy. Stress management techniques include breathing, meditation and relaxation practices may also help. Exercise and cognitive behavioral therapy may also be prescribed by a physician treating a migraine patient.

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