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Study looks at genetic mutations tied to migraines

Migraines are not just simple headaches. Rather, migraines can be truly debilitating, preventing a person from daily living activities and working full-time. Some migraine sufferers even end up having to make frequent trips to the hospital. Clearly, anyone who suffers from migraines know exactly how horrible the pain can be.

This is why Robert Shapiro, a neurologist and headache specialist -- who is also a university professor -- wants to see more research conducted on just what causes migraines. The hope is finding causes will lead to better treatments.

According to Shapiro, there are up to 60 million Americans living in the U.S. with migraines. Surely, a good number of those are in New Jersey. The Migraine Research Foundation estimates that of those with migraines, 2 percent suffer from a migraine roughly 15 days per month.

Migraines can last anywhere from four hours to 72 hours with symptoms that tend to include headache, nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. However, while headache is most closely associated with migraines, a person can have a migraine and not have a headache.

Shapiro recently published a study trying to learn more about what causes migraines. For his study, he focused on a family with a history of a rare sleep disorder and migraines. It was found these family members have a mutated gene that is associated with migraines.

Aside from heredity, other risks linked to migraines include environment or substance exposure, as well as medical conditions such as obesity, hormonal changes and epilepsy.

In the end, Shapiro is hopeful that more research will be done on migraines. His idea is that if more research was done, this would lead to more FDA-approved drugs to better treat migraines.

For those suffering from migraines, also keep in mind that in terms of receiving disability there may be options. While migraines are hard to prove, the Social Security Administration may take many factors into consideration when determining eligibility. This is where an attorney with experience handling these types of cases can help advocate for the person suffering.

Source: USA Today, "Researcher works to unlock mysteries of migraines," Tim Johnson, May 16, 2013

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