triggers Any number of triggers can bring on a migraine, including such different factors as drinking alcohol, experiencing a change in the weather, and not getting enough sleep. Now one researcher has determined that these common migraine triggers and a host of others can produce oxidative stress in the brain. Such stress is marked by a build-up of damaging molecules called free radicals and can lead to pain. In a study published recently in Headache, Jonathan Borkum, PhD, of the University of Maine’s Department of Psychology, evaluated 2,000 studies about migraine triggers published between 1990 and 2014 and found that nearly all common migraine triggers are capable of generating oxidative stress. Based on those findings, he stated he believes oxidative stress can be a unifying principle behind the types of triggers countless migraineurs experience.

For many migraineurs, living with the disorder affects several aspects of their lives — from family relationships to quality of sleep. Now, studies from the United States and Canada show just how pervasive and far reaching those effects are. In the U.S., a study of nearly 1,000 men and women with chronic migraine (headache 15 or more days per month) found that the condition impacts family relationships and activities, ranging from reduced time spent with partners and children to cancelled vacation plans.

Q. Is there anyone out there who gets vacation migraines? My world is pretty stressed. With working out of town, crazy sleep schedules, and taking care of my elderly mother-in-law, I live at a pretty high level of stress all the time. I do have chronic migraines, but I seem to get headaches when we go on vacation or at least the first part of the vacation. My husband tries to keep my stress low when we go on vacation, but I still get the headaches, even without the stress of day-to-day life. Is it because of the change in hormones at the lack of stress? Is it the drastic change that gives me the headaches?

Scientists have recently discovered a gene mutation that contributes to both migraine and a rare sleep disorder. It is an achievement they hope will help will lead to relief for millions of migraineurs. “We don’t get the chance very often to isolate one molecule that we’re confident is related to migraines,” said K.C. Brennan, MD, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor of neurology at the University of Utah. “Once we understand which molecules and cells this mutation changes, we can develop drugs specifically targeted to them.”

The over-the-counter supplement melatonin, best known for its sleep-inducing properties, has shown mixed results in preventing and treating migraine. Most recently, a multicenter, randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study in Brazil found the hormone to be as effective as the drug amitriptyline, which is frequently prescribed to prevent migraine. Melatonin also proved to be better tolerated than the medication.

  In the United States, some 28 million people experience migraine, and one in four households across the country includes a migraineur. Despite the prevalence of the disorder and its far-reaching effects, fewer than half of migraine sufferers are ever diagnosed—a critical step in getting relief. In a new small study, researchers Nancy Waltman, PhD, and Catherine Parker of the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing Lincoln Division and Bryan Medical Center have shown just how important appropriate medical intervention can be in reducing the frequency, severity and disability of migraine.