Researchers have identified a certain biomarker in the blood of women with migraines. Led by Dr. B. Lee Peterlin, a team from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, tested the blood of 88 women while also conducting a neurological exam and measuring body mass index (BMI). Fifty-two (52) women had episodic migraines, which means having a migraine headache up to 14 days per month. Thirty-six (36) women had no history of migraines and did not have headaches.
They found that women with episodic migraines had lower levels of lipids called ceramides in their blood than in the women without headaches. The women with migraines had about 6,000 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) of ceramides in their blood, while the women without headaches had around 10,500 ng/ml in their blood.
“While more research is needed to confirm these initial findings, the possibility of discovering a new biomarker for migraine is exciting,” said Dr. Peterlin.
“This study is a very important contribution to our understanding of the underpinnings of migraine and may have wide-ranging effects in diagnosing and treating migraine if the results are replicated in further studies,” said Karl Ekbom, MD, PhD, with the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, who wrote an accompanying comment article.
Currently, Migraines are diagnosed by a range of symptoms. According to WebMd, those symptoms include:
Symptoms before the migraine begins
A day or two before a migraine starts, you may feel:
- Depressed or cranky.
- Very happy, very awake, or full of energy.
- Restless or nervous.
- Very sleepy.
- Thirsty or hungry, or you may crave certain foods. Or you may not feel like eating.
Symptoms of an aura
About 1 out of 5 people has a warning sign of a migraine called an aura. It usually starts about 30 minutes before the headache starts. During an aura, you may:
- See spots, wavy lines, or flashing lights.
- Have numbness or a “pins-and-needles” feeling in your hands, arms, or face.
Symptoms when the headache starts
- Throbbing pain on one side of the head. But you can have pain on both sides.
- Pain behind one of your eyes camera.gif.
- Moderate to very bad pain. The pain may be so bad that you can’t do any of your usual activities.
- Pain that gets worse with routine physical activity.
- Nausea, vomiting, or both.
- Pain that gets worse when you’re around light, noise, and sometimes smells.
Less common symptoms include:
- Problems speaking.
- Tingling in your face, arms, and shoulders.
- Short-term weakness on one side of your body.
The study was published in the online issue of the journal Neurology.