Storms like Elsa bring low-pressure systems that may cause migraines; Yale doctor talks advances in treating, prevention


(WTNH) — Storms like Tropical Storm Elsa that hit Connecticut this week bring low-pressure systems that, for some, trigger migraine headaches. A Yale Medicine doctor who treats headaches joined us Friday to talk about the advances in treating and preventing migraines.

A migraine is a moderately severe headache with light and noise sensitivity that lasts four-72 hours.

Storms like Elsa bring with them a change in the barometric pressure, and a migraine brain does not like changes, says Yale Medicine Doctor Tanya Bilchik, a headache neurologist.

“It’s more sensitive to change, whether it’s the weather, whether it’s food, stress, or it’s hormonal.”

Things like poor sleep or menstrual cycle can also factor in. For storms coming, she recommends that migraine sufferers control what they can: hydration, sleep, no nitrates in hot dogs and pepperoni, no skipping meals.

And now is a new time for migraine solutions.

“We’ve had a revolution in treatment and preventative treatment in the last three years. We’ve had injectable migraine preventives and we’ve had oral new drugs that you take as soon as you get a migraine.”

She says some established drugs are used for migraine prevention.

“Anti-hypertension medications such as propranolol, which is a beta-blocker, anti-seizure medications, Topamax, Depacope, anti-depression medications we’ve seen those used for years for migraines.”

She says some new drugs are monthly – EpiPen shots.

Dr. Bilchick likes a new drug just out from New Haven-based BioHaven.

“It’s called Remajapant and it is an acute medicine that you take as soon as you get a migraine; they just got approval for migraine prevention.”

Dr. Bilchik says if you experience something described as “the worst headache of your life” it may be time to go to an emergency room, especially if you experience other symptoms like numbness, weakness, or speech problems.

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