For migraine sufferers, it can feel like there’s no relief or long term solution. But we’ve heard about this pretty quirky idea that some swear gets rid of a painful headache instantly.
A new trial is looking into claims that a puff of air into the ear could help treat migraines.
Symptoms of a migraine include severe headaches, nausea and/or vomiting, and fatigue however the cause of the condition is largely unknown.
Theories of causes for migraines range from blood vessels in the brain widening to brain cells activating the face’s trigeminal nerve – causing a release of chemicals which then causes blood vessels on the brain’s surface to swell.
But all of that pain could be gone with a puff of air, say scientists. In fact this could be one of the most promising developments in migraine treatment yet. Modulated air insufflation of the ear canal could allow access to the trigeminal nerve and can therefore stop the pain signals reaching the brain.
A pneumatic otoscope, which is similar to those used by GPs to measure the amount of fluid behind the eardrum, is used to puff air into the air constantly, for up to 20 minutes.
The new trial is being undertaken by the Carrick Institute in Arizona, where scientists will use the device on 25 migraine sufferers who will receive a single session during an attack. These patients will then gauge the severity of their symptoms both before and after the air treatment, reports TV3.
“The mechanism of the proposed treatment is likely to work via stimulation of the nerves in the ear canal and to the ear drum,” Dr Andy Dowson, chairman of the charity Migraine Action’s medical advisory board, said of the trial.
“In migraines, the brain is oversensitive and easily stimulated by messages from the sensory nervous system. This technique would effectively reset the signals.
“It will be very interesting to see how studies go”.