Heading Away from Brain Pain
Migraines are headaches of varying intensity and affect different areas of the brain from person to person. Patients usually describe the pain as “throbbing” or “pulsing” and can be accompanied by visual changes (auras), nausea, vomiting, weakness or loss of mobility in limbs, inability to communicate, and extreme sensitivity to light. Migraine attacks may last for several hours or days. Severe migraines may interfere with a patient’s ability to participate in daily tasks. These attacks can be chronic for some patients and may flare on a regular basis.
While the exact cause of migraines is still under investigation, researchers believe it is due to a combination of genetic variances and environmental triggers. Enlarged or dilated blood vessels in the brain are a common trigger for headaches and migraines. Patients may experience more frequent or intense migraines when they are stressed, overexert themselves, eat certain foods, or when barometric pressure changes occur in the area they live. Science has found that dysfunction in hormones and neurotransmitters may also play a role in the occurrence of migraines.
The use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy for acute migraines has been fairly studied over the years. A treatment in a hyperbaric chamber during a migraine has been clinically shown to quickly alleviate symptoms for many patients. The increased pressure from a treatment may act similarly to migraine medications by causing vasoconstriction in the brain, stopping the excessive blood flow thought to trigger symptoms. Current evidence as to whether hyperbaric therapy can prevent or lessen migraine attacks is mostly anecdotal. It is believed that hyperbaric therapy’s proven effectiveness at positively influencing 8,101 genes may play a role in balancing inflammation and hormone regulation within the brain, potentially lessening migraine occurrences.