Migraine headaches are severely painful and usually occur with other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and painful sensitivity to light. Cluster headaches cause sharp, burning pain on one side of the head.
Physicians commonly rely on a number of drug therapies to both treat and prevent migraine and cluster headaches, but some also prescribe oxygen therapy. The aim of the systematic review — comprising nine small studies involving 201 participants — was to determine whether inhaling oxygen actually helps.
"We wanted to locate and assess any evidence from randomized trials that oxygen administration was a safe and effective treatment for migraine or cluster headaches," said lead reviewer Michael Bennett, of Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine at Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney. "We hoped this would assist physicians to make effective treatment decisions in this area."
The review appears in the current issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates research in all aspects of health care. Systematic reviews draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing trials on a topic.
The Cochrane reviewers examined studies that evaluated normobaric oxygen therapy and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Normobaric therapy consists of patients inhaling pure oxygen at normal room pressure, and hyperbaric therapy involves patients breathing oxygen at higher pressure in a specially designed chamber.
Five studies compared hyperbaric versus sham (placebo) therapy for migraine; two compared hyperbaric versus sham therapy for cluster headache; and two investigated the use of normobaric therapy for cluster headache. Length of treatment varied with each study.
Three studies reported the number of patients who had significant relief from their migraines within 40 to 45 minutes of hyperbaric therapy. Although the studies did not specify each patients' response to treatment, they reported a significant increase in the proportion of patients who had relief with hyperbaric oxygen compared to sham therapy.
For cluster headaches, two studies (69 patients) found a significantly greater proportion of patients had relief of their headaches after 15 minutes of normobaric compared to sham therapy.
The reviewers concluded that hyperbaric treatment might give some relief for migraine headache and that normobaric therapy might provide similar relief for cluster headache, but there is no evidence that these therapies will prevent future attacks.
"We believe that hyperbaric oxygen is also a reasonable measure for migraineurs who have not responded to other measures to treat an acute attack," Bennett said. "However, the poor availability of hyperbaric chambers makes this an option only in a minority of health facilities. Most physicians treating headaches will continue to rely on established and emerging pharmacological options for treating and preventing acute attacks."
Estimates indicate that 6 percent to 7 percent of men and 15 percent to 18 percent of women suffer from severe migraine headaches, and cluster headaches effect about 0.2 percent of the population.
John Kirchner, M.D., of the Kirchner Headache Clinic in Omaha, Neb., has treated thousands of patients suffering from a variety of headaches, including migraine and cluster, and said he does not include oxygen therapy in his patients' treatment plans.
"This [oxygen therapy] would not be practical as the headache comes on fast and does not last long," he said. "So there would not be time to get the patient to the chamber."
Kirchner's treatment for migraine includes avoiding triggers, taking preventive and symptomatic medications and undergoing behavior modification.
Deep stimulation improves cognitive control by augmenting brain rhythms
04.04.2019 | Picower Institute at MIT
Black nanoparticles slow the growth of tumors
04.04.2019 | Technische Universität München
A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter
A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.
Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...
The technology could revolutionize how information travels through data centers and artificial intelligence networks
Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers...
Physicists observe how electron-hole pairs drift apart at ultrafast speed, but still remain strongly bound.
Modern electronics relies on ultrafast charge motion on ever shorter length scales. Physicists from Regensburg and Gothenburg have now succeeded in resolving a...
Engineers create novel optical devices, including a moth eye-inspired omnidirectional microwave antenna
A team of engineers at Tufts University has developed a series of 3D printed metamaterials with unique microwave or optical properties that go beyond what is...
17.04.2019 | Event News
15.04.2019 | Event News
09.04.2019 | Event News
18.04.2019 | Life Sciences
18.04.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
18.04.2019 | Life Sciences