Migraine Patients with Nausea Experience More Pain


Findings from a landmark study also show that frequent nausea may be a predictor of patients' satisfaction with their treatments.

By Kate H. Gamble, Senior Editor

New findings from the National Headache Foundation’s landmark American Migraine Prevalence and Prevention (AMPP) Study indicate that patients with frequent migraine-related nausea experienced more severe pain and worse outcomes than those with rare or no presence of nausea.

Frequent nausea may also be a predictor of patients’ satisfaction with their treatments and ability to perform everyday activities. The findings, which will be presented at the 53rd Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Headache Society (AHS), suggest that treating nausea may reduce the overall burden of migraine for certain episodic migraine (EM) patients, particularly for women, who experience migraine-related nausea more frequently than men (52.6% compared with 39.3%).

“These data suggest that there are millions of people who, because of migraine-related nausea as well as pain, are having a hard time finding relief from medication,” said Richard B. Lipton, MD, lead study investigator, professor/vice chair of The Saul R. Korey Department of Neurology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and director of the Montefiore Headache Unit in New York. “Some patients with nausea delay or skip taking their oral treatment. Recognizing nausea may be a key to reducing the overall burden of migraine for certain episodic migraine sufferers.”

One of the most common chronic pain conditions, episodic migraine affects more than 29.5 million Americans, with women 3 times more likely than man to have the condition. Despite these statistics, less than half of all people with migraine have consulted a healthcare professional for headache in the past year.

In the analysis of the AMPP Study, EM patients who frequently experienced nausea with migraine also had greater odds of experiencing other symptoms, including:

  • One-sided pain
  • Throbbing or pulsating pain
  • Sensitivity to light, sound and/or smell
  • Loss of appetite
  • Neck pain
  • Sinus pain

“These findings shine a light for the first time on just how serious an impact migraine-related nausea can have on people’s lives,” said Robert Dalton, executive director of the National Headache Foundation. “These data underscore that those who have frequent migraine-related nausea fare worse on several levels than those who don’t. There is a clear need for more dialogue between healthcare providers and migraineurs to ensure patients receive relief from all the symptoms of migraine, including debilitating nausea.”

Patients in the study who experienced frequent migraine-related nausea also reported less satisfaction with medications, including:

  • Greater dissatisfaction with medication effectiveness
  • More medication side effects
  • More medication-related interference in several aspects of life, including their ability to work, perform household work, spend time with family, and pursue social and leisure activities

For more information on migraine treatment, click here.

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