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When even colors hurt

Having battery acid poured on your brain, splitting your head in half with an ax, being in so much pain that colors hurt and the sun is too loud. These are all ways migraines have been described by people who endure them frequently, sometimes as often as three times a week.

A migraine is not just a headache. It is a complete physical, mental and emotional assault on your body. Women have stated they would rather give birth ten, one hundred, one thousand times over if it meant guaranteeing themselves a migraine-free life. Even the World Health Organization classifies migraines as among the most disabling of illnesses; up there with dementia, quadriplegia, and active psychosis.

But up until recently, few effective, well-tolerated preventive agents existed. Those that were available were all discovered serendipitously; having originally been developed to relieve other conditions such depression, high blood pressure, or seizures, and inadvertently found to help relieve migraines.

Enter CGRP inhibitors. Three (Aimovig, Ajovy, and Emgality) have already been approved this year for the prevention of migraine, and several more are in the pipeline. These work by inhibiting the actions of CGRP, a small protein involved in pain transmission that may also play a role in starting migraine attacks. Trial results look promising, with migraines improving by 75% or more in up to 30% of trial participants, with some reports of improvements of up to 100%.

CGRP inhibitors represent a step in the right direction. And any step in the right direction is a welcome step when you are burdened with a condition like this.

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