Women Suffer From More Migraines Than Men, And A New Study Finally Found A Reason Why


 
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By Tamim Alnuweiri 

Experts in science and medicine are finally acknowledging that racial minorities have been overlooked regarding physical and mental health—and that women’s pain has been minimized. Building on that trend is a new study that might explain why women are more likely to experience to migraines than men are.

The research, just presented at the Experimental Biology 2018 conference, focused on NHE1, a proton exchanger that helps to interpret pain. When levels of it are low, pain signaling in the brain increases, which can lead to migraines. Scientists examined male and female rats because although women are more likely to get migraines, most migraine studies have historically been conducted using only male test subjects. The results showed that the male rats had a level of NHE1 four times higher than the females.

Additionally, high estrogen levels correlated to low NHE1 levels; that might explain why many women experience migraines when they get their period, which is when estrogen levels begin to rise. But that’s not the worst of discoveries: According to the study, low levels of NHE1 also make migraine medications less effective.

“Based on our findings, we think women are more susceptible to migraines because the larger magnitude sex hormone fluctuations lead to changes in NHE1 expression, which may leave the brain vulnerable to ion dysregulation and pain activation,” says Emily Galloway, an undergraduate research assistant at the University of Arizona who presented the study.

With this better understanding of the way women’s brains and bodies work, scientists and medical professionals will hopefully focus on creating solutions that work for women.



 
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