People who regularly suffer from migraines are more likely to get dizzy or suffer motion sickness when they ride a rollercoaster, a new study has revealed.
A group of 40 people, half regularly suffering from migraines and half not, had their brains scanned while they watched videos of a virtual rollercoaster ride.
As well as revealing those struggling with migraines get more dizzy, the team from the University of Hamburg in Germany found they had more nerve cell activity in certain areas of the brain, and less activity in other areas.
The visual processing area of the brain was one of the main regions that experienced heightened activity in the migraine sufferers as they watched the roller coaster.
According to the NHS, around 10 million people aged 15-69 in the UK suffer from migraines, causing up to 16,500 emergency hospital admissions every year.
The team hope that by identifying and pinpointing these changes, future studies can better understand migraine and lead to the development of new treatments.
People who regularly suffer from migraines are more likely to get dizzy or suffer motion sickness when they ride a rollercoaster, a new study has revealed. Stock image
WHAT HELPS TO PREVENT MIGRAINES?
Being open to new experiences reduces people’s risk of migraines, research suggested in June 2017.
A preference for variation over routine prevents crippling headaches among depression sufferers, a study found.
Yet, neuroticism – a personality trait associated with nervousness and irritability – increases migraine’s risk, the research adds.
Study author Dr Máté Magyar from Semmelweis University in Budapest, said: ‘An open character appears to offer protection from [migraine].
‘Our study results could help to provide a better understanding of the biopsychosocial background of migraine, and help to find novel strategies in the prevention of and interventions for [migraine].’
The researchers analysed the relationship between personality traits, depression and migraines in more than 3,000 sufferers of the mental-health condition.
Depression is associated with an increased risk of migraines.
The participants were ranked according to their openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.
A migraine is a moderate to severe headache felt as a throbbing pain on one side of the head.
However, in some people it can also result in feeling sick, being sick, as well as light and sound sensitivity.
Migraine is a common health condition, according to the NHS, who say it affects around one in every five women and around one in every 15 men.
The condition usually starts to impact people in early adulthood.
‘Millions of people regularly experience painful and debilitating migraine headaches that can reduce their quality of life,’ said study author Arne May
‘People with migraine often complain of dizziness, balance problems and misperception of their body’s place in space during migraine.’
This prompted the virtual roller coaster study, that found some of these problems are not only magnified in people who experience migraine, but they are also associated with changes in various areas of the brain.
May and colleagues used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to take brain scans of each participant as they watched videos to experience the virtual roller coaster rides.
None of the volunteers experienced a migraine during the virtual rides.
After they finished watching videos of the virtual rollercoasters they completed a survey.
This asked them about their perceived levels of dizziness, motion sickness and other symptoms they may have experienced during the ‘ride’.
They found 65 per cent of people who regularly experience migraines found that they experienced dizziness during the ‘ride’ compared to 30 per cent of people who don’t experience migraines.
On a questionnaire about motion sickness, which scored symptom intensity on a scale of 1-180, those with a history of migraines had an average score of 47 compared to an average score of 24 for people without.
People with migraines also experienced symptoms longer, an average of one minute and 19 seconds compared to an average of 27 seconds.
From the brain scans, researchers were able to identify changes in nerve cell activity based on blood flow to certain areas of the brain.
A group of 40 people, half regularly suffering from migraines and half not, had their brains scanned while they watched videos of a virtual rollercoaster ride. Stock image
People with migraines had increased activity in five areas of the brain, including two areas in the occipital gyrus, the visual processing area of the brain, and decreased activity in two other areas including the middle frontal gyrus.
These brain changes correlated with migraine disability and motion sickness scores.
‘One other area of the brain where we found pronounced nerve cell activity in people with migraine was within the pontine nuclei, which helps regulate movement and other motor activity,’ said May.
‘This increased activity could relate to abnormal transmission of visual, auditory and sensory information within the brain.
‘Future research should now look at larger groups of people with migraine to see if our findings can be confirmed.’
The findings have been published in Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Can CANNABIS be used to treat migraines? First trial to test THC and CBD as potential treatments for acute headaches is underway
While one in five women and one in five men suffer from migraines, current treatments including painkillers and anti-sickness tablets remain ineffective for many sufferers.
Now, scientists are testing whether cannabis could be used to treat migraines, in what is believed to be the first trial of its kind.
Researchers from the University of California, San Diego, are testing several compounds found in cannabis, including THC and CBD, on participants who suffer from severe migraines.
The team hopes the findings from the trial could help pave the way for a treatment for patients whose lives are disrupted on a regular basis from migraines.
Migraines are a common condition that tend to start in early adulthood, although the cause remains unclear.
The NHS explained: ‘A migraine is usually a moderate or severe headache felt as a throbbing pain on 1 side of the head.
‘Many people also have symptoms such as feeling sick, being sick and increased sensitivity to light or sound.’
There are several treatment options available, including painkillers and anti-emetics to help with the nausea.
However, these are ineffective for many people, who are forced to deal with the painful episodes regularly.
Now, researchers in California have launched a small scale trial to see if cannabis compounds could be effective to treat migraines.
Dr Nathaniel Schuster, who is leading the trial, said: ‘Many patients who suffer from migraines have experienced them for many years but have never discussed them with their physicians.
‘They are, rather, self-treating with various treatments, such as cannabis.
‘Right now, when patients ask us if cannabis works for migraines, we do not have evidence-based data to answer that question.’
So far, approximately 20 participants have been enrolled who experience migraines every month, are not regular cannabis users and are aged 21-65.