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Functions — What M-sense can do

M-sense is here to help you reduce your attacks and intake of medication. Find out here what functions M-sense has and exactly how the app works.

Is M-sense a replacement for treatment from a doctor?

No, only a doctor can diagnose migraine reliably, rule out other forms of headache, consider possible accompanying illnesses, and with your cooperation agree on a treatment plan. In addition to this, precise neurological examinations are necessary. Your doctor usually has little time during standard practice hours. This short time can be put to better use when the necessary information from your diaries is automatically evaluated by M-sense.

How does M-sense recognise whether I have migraines or tension headaches?

Your headaches are classified by M-sense into migraines and tension headaches according to a reliable classification model (ICHD: International Classification of Headache Disorders). We also record characteristics and accompanying symptoms of attacks. Sometimes only a probable diagnosis is possible, since lighter attacks do not always have all necessary characteristics for a clear diagnosis. However, treatments specific for migraines and tension headaches usually work for these types of headache as well.

Why should I register with the app?

By registering your account, we can ensure that your data is not lost. If your smartphone is stolen or lost, the data which you entered on M-sense remains intact. We can restore this information on your new device. There will also be various features in the future which will require registration, a current  example of this is the doctor’s report feature.

How does the app analyse the trigger factors of my headaches?

Years of research on the causes of migraine attacks have gone into M-sense. We are convinced that periodically recurring attacks are triggered by a fluctuating bodily resistance together with a limited number of personal triggers. M-sense aims to discover this pattern together with you. All of the information you provide in your diary will be examined and processed with regards to your migraines. Environmental, lifestyle, and biological/hormonal factors are taken into consideration during the analysis in order to discover your individual pattern of headaches. M-sense will also not only analyse your diary entries, but also the effect of your therapy sessions on your migraine attacks.

What trigger factors can I track with M-sense?

Currently you can track the following trigger factors:

Weather (Temperature, atmospheric pressure, and humidity)
Sleep (Amount and quality)
Caffeine
Missed meals 
Levels of activity 
Stress 
Alcohol 
Menstruation 

You do not have to enter data for factors; weather is automatically added via GPS for example. If you only document your attacks, you will receive analysis of your triggers in relation to temperature, atmospheric pressure, and humidity. You can turn all other factors on or off.

What is the doctor’s report?

The doctor’s report prepares your data and summarises your headache pattern in numbers as well as graphs for the doctor treating you. The type of data and layout has been developed together with experienced doctors. You can discuss the results of your headache diary in a three-month overview as a PDF or printout with your doctor. 

M-sense is a certified medical product – what does that mean?

Your doctor can only fully rely on the analysis of dairy entries and therapy support of a medical product. We have had extensive tests performed on the functions of M-sense and the app medically assessed. Our CE symbol and EC declaration of conformity verifies that fundamental health and safety requirements according to EU guidelines have been met. M-sense has also received the seal “quality product internet medicine”, a product certification of the Federal Association for Internet Medicine (Bundesverband für Internetmedizin).

How can I reduce my (migraine) attacks with M-sense?

M-sense offers you many functions which are proven to be able to reduce the frequency of migraines and tension headaches, such as relaxation, endurance exercise, and headache-specific concepts of behavioural therapy. Many medical studies have unanimously come to the conclusion that relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscle relaxation according to Jacobson, within a comprehensive programme can reduce the frequency of migraines on average by 35-45%. 

How can an app help me to reduce my intake of medication?

With the medication tracker, you will have an overview of your intake so that you do not accidentally take too many painkillers during an attack.

If you have found your trigger factors with the help of M-sense, you can try to avoid these in periods of heightened migraine and headache susceptibility.

Finally, the non-medicinal therapy techniques in M-sense will help you reduce the frequency and intensity of migraine and headache attacks when used regularly. Using your analysis as a basis, M-sense will become your active therapy coach and will offer you personalised therapy plans based on your preferences (such as progressive muscle relaxation according to Jacobson, endurance exercise, or headache-specific concepts of behavioural therapy). 

Trigger factors — Learning to Identify Causes

M-sense examines different factors which have been proven to cause migraines and tension headaches. It is important to distinguish between early signals and causes as these can easily be confused. You can learn more about causes and early signals here or within the app itself.

What does the weather have to do with my headaches and migraines?

There are three weather-related factors which have an effect on headaches and migraines: temperature, humidity, and atmospheric pressure. You do not have to enter this information on the app. The app retrieves this data itself via GPS (the location service must be enabled on your device).

Temperature: Drastic fluctuations in temperature can contribute to the likelihood of a migraine attack occurring. Before a migraine attack, you may often be more aware of changes in temperature as your sensitivity is heightened. This could be a so-called “early signal”, which is not a cause but an indication of an possible attack.

Humidity: Very high levels of humidity are a common cause of migraine attacks. This is however rarely the case with very low levels of humidity. The intensity of the headache may increase at greater levels of humidity.

Atmospheric Pressure: A rise or a fall in atmospheric pressure are also common causes of migraine attacks. Certain brain cells connected to headaches are more active during a fall in pressure.

How does sleep affect headaches and migraines?

The amount and quality of sleep are considered common factors affecting migraines and tension headaches.

Amount of Sleep: Three out of four sufferers specify lack of sleep as one of their triggers. In addition to this, almost one in four say that sleeping too long or waking up too late can cause attacks. During the build up of a migraine, the average length of sleep is usually shorter.

Quality of Sleep: A deeper and more restful sleep allows you start your day in positive spirits and boosts your physical and mental health. Bad quality of sleep together with too little of it is for many people a sure cause of migraines. 

How does caffeine affect headaches and migraines?

Caffeine can have positive effects on migraines and tension headaches. There is even medication which contains a combination of caffeine and painkillers. However, the brain becomes used to too much caffeine (>200mg caffeine, roughly two cups of coffee) after only two weeks. Caffeine has therefore less of an effect the more of it you consume. If migraine attacks and tension headaches occur on the weekend, you should test to see whether your caffeine consumption changes on the weekend and whether the migraines could be a symptom of withdrawal. You can easily document these factors with M-sense. One more tip: if you usually drink lots of coffee, espresso, or tea, try making them slightly weaker. 

What influence does skipping meals have on headaches and migraines?

Skipped meals or irregular intake of food are a cause for migraine attacks for three out of four sufferers. A skipped meal can cause the blood sugar level to sink and lead to a migraine attack.

If blood sugar sinks below the normal level, the sympathetic nervous system will be activated to mobilise stored carbohydrates. This useful bodily process can however have a side effect: it can cause the brain to become out of step. It is therefore recommended that you eat regular meals rich in carbohydrates and drink enough liquids. A sudden pang of hunger although you have have eaten regularly, can be an early signal of a migraine attack. ;

How does exercise affect headaches and migraines?

Good physical fitness can prevent migraine attacks. Endurance exercise such as swimming, cycling, or jogging keeps you fit. Overexertion from sports with a competitive element can however lead to migraine attacks for some people.

Since migraine headaches can intensify through light routine exercise and movements (such as bending down or walking), many avoid movement sometimes even when the headache has long passed. Daily physical activity should be slowly increased again after a migraine attack through a variety of habits and rituals, such as always taking the stairs or getting up from the desk and walking around once an hour.

Tension headaches do not usually intensify through physical activity. Sometimes movement even has a positive effect in the early stages of a tension headache. Just as with migraines, regular endurance training can reduce the occurrence of tension headaches.

How does alcohol affect headaches and migraines?

One in three sufferers suspects that alcohol is occasionally responsible for migraine attacks. One in ten considers alcohol to be a sure cause of their migraines.

Substances found in alcoholic drinks can cause migraine attacks, such as tyramine which occurs naturally as a result of fermentation processes in food. Alcohol has a euphoric effect. Tyramine can increase performance and motivation. Various messenger substances in the body are the cause of this, such as dopamine and noradrenaline. These substances cause the body to use up energy reserves faster and increase the sufferers susceptibility to migraine attacks. The time of day at which alcohol is consumed can also have an effect on your susceptibility. A glass of champagne at a birthday party at the office can perhaps contribute to a migraine later on in the day, while a glass of red wine before going to bed has no consequences.

Little is known about the relationship between alcohol consumption and tension headaches.

How does stress affect headaches and migraines?

Stress is considered a common cause of migraine attacks. However, it is often not the stress itself which is the trigger, but the change in stress level – ie from relaxation to stress or stress to relaxation. A reduction in this change in levels through therapy methods such as progressive muscle relaxation is therefore advisable and part of M-sense’s non-medicinal treatments.

What is the relationship between menstruation and migraines?

Around 50% of women affected by migraines report that their migraine attacks coincide with their period. Two forms can be distinguished during the diagnosis: 5-10% have a purely menstrual migraine where attacks only occur one to two days before or after menstruation in at least two out of three menstrual cycles. With menstrually-related migraines on the other hand, the attacks also occur frequently one to two days before menstruation but also at various other points in the cycle. M-sense can analyse whether your migraine is menstrual or menstrually-related.

For over 40 years, there has been a theory that sinking oestrogen levels cause migraine attacks. The most recent studies also seem to verify this. However, the exact physiological relationship still remains unexplained. It is assumed that hormonal fluctuations caused by the menstrual cycle are generally a physical strain on the body.