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Researchers Look At New Ways To Treat Migraines

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Just say the word "migraine" and people shake their heads in sympathy. Researchers claim migraine pain is quite common, but there is a new approach to treating the headaches.

If anybody would know how to handle their migraines, you'd think a doctor would. But Dr. Andra James has suffered from migraines most of her life.

"It feels like I've been hit on the head with a board, only instead of going away it stays and even gets worse," she said.

Like many people, James said she simply lived with them until she found the right medication to ease the pain.

"Too often, people with disabling headaches try to take care of the problem themselves and are unsuccessful and they give up and they continue to have substantial disability," said Duke internist Dr. David Matchar.

New recommendations urge people to start with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), which include aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen sodium and the combination of acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine. Health experts say they should be the first defense against migraine pain.

"However if the headaches are very disabling, if they're occurring very frequently or of the non-steroidals are not fully treating the headache, then it's important to pursue other options, and that may require seeing a physician and receiving one or more prescriptions," Matchar said.

Proper migraine treatment includes treating the headache immediately and consistently. Doctors should also work with patients to identify and avoid migraine triggers such as chocolate or caffeine.

"I've changed my lifestyle. I avoid caffeine. I avoid wine. I avoid other things that I think will trigger my migraines," James said.

Health experts said migraines will not go away immediately. According to the

National Headache Foundation

, a realistic goal is to cut your number of migraines in half.