Health

Scientists Have Finally Figured out Why You Get Migraines

July 5th 2016

By:
Laura Donovan

Anyone who has ever suffered from migraines knows how debilitating, annoying, and painful they can be.

Luckily, researchers might have some helpful answers for the millions of migraine sufferers around the world.

The International Headache Genetics Consortium recently published a study in the journal Nature Genetics that found that migraines may be associated with the way a person's blood supply system functions, Business Insider reports. Looking at information from 59,674 migraine sufferers and 316,078 people who didn't have migraines, the study found 38 distinct genomic loci in the patients who suffered from migraines that were directly connected to migraine suffering.

Researchers discovered that these loci impacted vascular and smooth muscle tissue, which suggested that migraines are most likely connected to blood supply problems, according to Business Insider.

John-Anker Zwart, one of the team researchers and a professor at Oslo University Hospital, said in a release that these findings "are the first concrete step towards developing personalized, evidence-based treatments for this very complex disease."

"We doctors have known for a long time that migraine patients differ from each other and the drugs that work for some patients are completely inefficient for others," he said. "In the future, we hope that this information can be utilized in dividing the patients into different genetic susceptibility groups for clinical drug trials, thus increasing the chances of identifying the best possible treatment for each subgroup."

Professor Aarno Palotie, leader of the International Headache Genetics Consortium, said in the same release that the consortium has long been committed to researching migraine causes:

"Our consortium is devoted to uncovering the genetic causes of migraine and during the past few years we have been able to identify many risk variants. Yet, in this latest, large-scale study, tens of new genetic risk factors were discovered. Because all of these variants modify the disease risk only slightly, the effect could only be seen when this large amount of samples became available."

Migraine causes can be a bit of a mystery, but "genetics and environmental factors appear to play a role":

"Migraines may be caused by changes in the brainstem and its interactions with the trigeminal nerve, a major pain pathway. Imbalances in brain chemicals — including serotonin, which helps regulate pain in your nervous system — also may be involved. Researchers are still studying the role of serotonin in migraines."

There are many different migraine triggers, including female hormonal changes, stress, alcoholic beverages, changes to one's environment or sleep, and certain foods, according to the Mayo Clinic.

[H/T Business Insider]