Migraines & MS: What’s the Connection?

Migraines & MS: What’s the Connection?

While migraines have left the medical community puzzled for many years, experts are establishing links among certain conditions which may leave individuals predisposed to them. In specific, recent studies indicated that patients with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) are at least three times as likely to experience migraines, compared to people who do not have the disease. While a concrete explanation for the link has yet to be established, there are some theories which researchers have speculated on.

Reasons for Migraines & MS

One possible explanation for the increase in migraines among MS patients is the fact that MS is at least two to three times more common in women than men, and women are also two to three times more likely to experience migraines compared to men.

Yet, there could be other mechanisms at play. For instance, altered pain perception and threshold could cause a more significant level of pain in patients with MS. And, patients with migraines are more likely to experience additional pain syndromes, including temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain.

Addressing Migraines in MS Patients

Although the precise mechanisms behind the prevalence of migraines in MS patients may have yet to be identified, patients experiencing migraines can still find relief in the meantime. Since the link is still unknown, most doctors treat migraines and MS as separate entities. In general, most patients respond well to migraine treatments, but it’s also important to consider headache as a potential side effect from medications used to treat MS. In particular, disease-modifying drugs (DMDs) tend to illicit headaches, while as many as 80% of MS patients have described headaches as a symptom after beginning any form of MS therapy.

If you’re experiencing migraines, be sure to discuss the symptom with your doctor. In cases with severe, persistent migraines, expertise from a neurologist may be needed to aid in making informed treatment decisions.

Heat Safety Awareness: How Warm Weather Affects Certain Chronic Conditions

Heat Safety Awareness: How Warm Weather Affects Certain Chronic Conditions

Extreme temperatures can be uncomfortable for everyone, but for certain populations, summer weather is especially harsh – and in some cases, even dangerous. In particular, people with certain chronic illnesses may be at risk for heat-related complications. As you prepare for the warm season ahead, find out how you can beat the heat if you have a sensitivity below.

Conditions That Can Flare Up with Heat
Many conditions, even when controlled effectively, can be aggravated by extreme heat. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Multiple Sclerosis: Multiple sclerosis (MS) affects the nervous system, triggering a number of symptoms including muscle weakness and pain. Many people with Multiple Sclerosis experience intensified symptoms in the heat, so much so that it’s been given a name: Uhthoff’s phenomenon. Even subtle body temperature increases can exacerbate symptoms, so do what you can to keep cool this summer. Limit outdoor activities, especially during the hottest part of the day, and wear light, breathable clothing.
  • Migraines: The relentless summer sun can intensify or bring on migraines in individuals who are prone to them. While your best bet is to stay indoors in a cool, dark room when you experience an episode, you can still enjoy outdoor activities when you’re feeling up to it. Just be sure to wear large, polarized sunglasses, and arm yourself with a wide-brimmed hat to prevent excess light exposure.
  • Rosacea: Characterized by redness and bumps, rosacea is a skin condition which can worsen with heat and sunlight. UV rays can lead to flare-ups, while excessive heat can dry out the skin, further triggering the condition. Most people with rosacea know to keep their skin protected during long stints of outdoor activity, but don’t forget about the shorter moments in between. Even walking into the grocery store or walking the dog can expose you to heat and sunlight.
  • Autoimmune Disorders: Conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus, known for causing joint pain, may be influenced by UV rays. Wearing protective clothing, or at the very least, applying an SPF 30 sunscreen or higher, may help.
  • Respiratory Illnesses: The dry season tends to make breathing more difficult and uncomfortable for people with conditions like asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). One reason is the spike in wildfires. If you live near a zone prone to wildfires, minimize your outdoor time as much as possible, as air impurities can aggravate the lungs.

Of course, extreme heat can take its toll on anyone, including otherwise healthy older adults. Exercising indoors or in a cool pool, snacking on chilled, healthy treats like homemade ice pops, and staying in the air conditioning during the hottest parts of the day are a few simple yet effective practices for avoiding any heat-related complications all summer long.

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