Main Causes of Migraine

Migraines are far worse than a bad headache and can be debilitating. Migraines are considered a neurological disease which can result in throbbing pain which makes it difficult to get out of bed and function. Things as simple as light, movement, sound can cause pain, nausea, tiredness, visual disturbances, irritability, numbness, challenges with speaking, short term loss of vision and others terrible symptoms.

Migraines are a relatively common neurological disease which have various symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms include a throbbing, pulsing headache on a single side of the head. The migraine typically gets worse when patients are exposed to light, sounds, smells, or are physical active. The migraine can last from about four hours to a few days. It is estimated that about 12% of Americans have this genetic disorder.


Unfortunately, the cause of migraines is rather complex and not fully understood. Headaches occur because specific nerves in the blood vessels send pain signals to the brain. As a result, inflammatory substances are released into nerves and blood vessels located in the head, however, it is unclear why this happens.

While the specific cause of migraines is unknown, below are some of the most common triggers:

* Emotional stress – this is one of the most common triggers of a migraine headache. When a patient endures a stressful event, the brain releases certain chemicals. This response is commonly referred to as the body’s "flight or fight" response. This chemical release can result in a migraine. Other types of emotions and feelings such as anxiety, worry, and excitement can dilate blood vessels and increase muscle tension. This can increase the severity of a migraine.

Hunger – When patients delay or miss a meal altogether, it can be a trigger for a migraine headache.

Chemical and preservative sensitivity – Some types of foods and beverages have been found to trigger up to 30% of migraines. Common foods and drinks which are triggers includes aged cheese, alcoholic beverages, chocolate, and some food additives like nitrates which are commonly found in pepperoni, hot dogs and lunch meat. Fermented and pickled foods can also be triggers for a migraine.

Caffeine – Consuming a surplus of caffeine or experiencing a caffeine withdrawal can cause headaches. This occurs when caffeine levels change abruptly. The blood vessels can become sensitized to caffeine. When a patient does not get a normal amount, it can result in a headache. In some cases, healthcare professionals recommend caffeine to aid in treating acute migraine attacks. However, caffeine should not be used regularly to treat migraines.

Pain Medication – Patients who frequently use medicine intended for relieving headache pain, may experience rebound headaches.

Hormonal – For women, they often experience migraines around the same time as their menstrual periods. The drop in estrogen during this time can also be a trigger for migraines. Birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy can also trigger these types of hormonal changes. Migraines are typically worse between puberty and menopause as these estrogen fluctuations don’t normally occur in younger girls and post-menopausal women. Men do not appear to be triggered by hormonal changes.

Light Stimulation – Fluorescent lights, flashing lights, bright light from a computer or TV, and bright sunlight can also be a migraine trigger.

While less common, some additional potential triggers may include the following:
1. Weather changes
2. Tiredness
3. Dehydration and dieting
4. Changes in sleep
5. Loud noises.
6. Exposure to smoke, perfumes or other odors.
7. Certain medications cause blood vessels to swell.


How to Make a Migraine Go Away