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New Shot Could Relieve Migraines for Up to Three Months

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Migraines are the third most common illness in the word, but their underlying causes and how to treat them are still largely a mystery to doctors. Now, NPR reports that an alternative therapy may be on the way for migraine sufferers dissatisfied with pills that only mask the symptoms. A new type of shot has the potential to relieve migraines for up to three months while causing hardly any side effects.

Since the 1980s, scientists have studied how a protein called calcitonin gene–related peptide (CGRP) relates to migraine episodes. Research shows that people experiencing the throbbing head pain, vertigo, and light sensitivity that come with migraines have high levels of this protein in their blood.

When CGRP is injected into the bloodstream of someone who's susceptible to migraines, it triggers these intense symptoms, researchers found. But when people who don't normally get migraines receive a shot of it, their side effects are mild pain at worst. Further studies in mice demonstrated that by blocking CGRP in the brain, researchers could stop their migraine-like symptoms from developing.

The first CGRP-blocking treatment for humans came in the form of a pill in 2011. Though the clinical trials seemed promising, the medication never made it into pharmacies due to its possible effects on the liver. The latest version of the therapy doesn't interact with the liver at all. Instead, monoclonal antibodies, the same immune molecules often used in cancer treatments, are injected directly into the blood. They bypass the organ to block CGRP in the brain.

Four pharmaceutical companies have developed CGRP-blocking medicine for migraines, and based on their clinical trials, the shots relieve pain for periods ranging from one to two days to three months at a time. And unlike current treatments on the market, which include antidepressants and epilepsy medication as well as prescription pain relievers, the most noticeable side effect is pain at the injection site.

Two of the companies developing the drug, Amgen (in collaboration with Novartis) and Teva Pharmaceuticals, will know in June whether the drug has been approved by the FDA, while Eli Lilly and Alder Biopharmaceuticals plan to submit their medications for approval later in 2018. If they are made available to the public, the treatments will likely be pricey, falling in the range of $8000 to $18,000 a year for patients who get the shots once a month. And though there are hardly any side effects in the short term, the drugs haven't been studied enough for long-term side effects to emerge. For those reasons, the shots may work best as a last resort for migraine sufferers for whom all other treatments have failed.

[h/t NPR]

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The CDC Makes It Official: Public Pools Are Disgusting
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Every summer, warm weather sends people across the country looking for a cool refuge in public pools, hotel pools, spas, and other water-based destinations. Before you take the plunge, you may want to heed the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Jumping into a publicly-populated pool could be like bathing in someone else’s diarrhea, as Men’s Health reports.

The health agency revealed its findings in their Mortality and Morbidity Report, which explains why pools are ground zero for bacteria. Between 2000 and 2014, the CDC traced 493 outbreaks and over 27,000 cases of illness that could be connected to exposure to a public pool. The primary culprit was Cryptosporidium, a parasite found in feces that causes intestinal distress. The determined little bugs can survive for up to seven days after encountering the CDC’s recommended levels of one to three parts per million (PPM) of free chlorine. Even if the pool is being cleaned and maintained properly, Cryptosporidium can idle long enough to infect someone else. The report also indicated that Legionella (which causes Legionnaire’s disease) and Pseudomonas (responsible for ear infections and folliculitis) were found in some of the pools.

The problem is likely the result of swimmers entering the pool while suffering from an upset stomach and leaving trace fecal matter behind. The CDC recommends that you not enter a public pool if you feel unwell, that you ask for a pool inspection report if you’re concerned about the hygiene of the facility, and that you absolutely not swallow any water. The agency also recommends that any pool owner who has experienced a “diarrheal incident” in their water opt for hyperchlorination to kill bacteria.

[h/t Men’s Health]

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Sleeping In on Weekends May Help You Catch Up on Sleep After All
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Weekend mornings are a precious time for nine-to-fivers. If you spend your weekdays staying up long past reasonable bedtime hours and waking up with the Sun, you may be tempted to sleep past noon every day off you get. Sleeping in feels great, and now a new study from sleep scientists at Stockholm University's Stress Research Institute finds that it may also be an effective way to make up for the sleep you missed during the week, contradicting previously held beliefs on the matter.

According to most sleep researchers, the only way to catch up on sleep debt is to adjust your sleeping patterns gradually over time—in other words, cramming in all the sleep you missed last week into a night or two won't cut it. A team of scientists reexamined this theory for their study published in the Journal of Sleep Research [PDF]. Researchers looked at the sleep data from about 44,000 Swedish adults collected in 1997 and followed up with the participants 13 years later. Accounting for factors like age, gender, and education, they report that adults who consistently slept for five hours or fewer throughout the week were more likely to have died after those 13 years than subjects who slept for six or seven hours, seven days a week. Oversleeping every day of the week also put participants at a greater risk of mortality.

But there's good news for people who do all their sleeping in on the weekend—subjects who under-slept five days and slept more during the last two days of the week had no greater risk of death than the people who got healthy amounts of sleep every night of the week. The results call into question past sleep studies that have only looked at sleep patterns during the week, ignoring weekend behaviors. The new study, though, focuses just on the sleeping habits of people at a specific point in time. To confirm what these results suggest, more long-term studies will need to be conducted.

Earlier mortality isn't the only health risk associated with unsatisfactory sleep habits: Getting too little or poor-quality sleep can mess with your memory, appetite, and cognitive and motor performance. That means finding time to get a good night's sleep, no matter the day of the week (if you're lucky enough to have the option), is still the healthiest course of action.

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