Some of the causes of a migraine headache may be genetic. The environment also triggers migraine headaches. For women there is also menstrual migraine and pregnancy migraine. Migraine symptoms include severe headache, nausea, and vomiting. There may also be a sensitivity to light and sound.
Chronic headaches and severe migraine may cause a throbbing pain and sleep disorders. Unfortunately definitive migraine relief and treatment is still pending research.
Up to 91% of migraine sufferers report functional impairment when a migraine headache is active. It affects their work performance and lifestyle. For 51% of these people work and school output is reduced by at least 50%. The mechanism as to what causes migraine is still not defined. It does seem there is no single exact cause of migraine. There is some evidence many migraine sufferers undergo changes in the brain chemicals including serotonin. The result may be a tension-type headache. There may also be an unbalance in minerals such as magnesium.
Fluctuations in estrogen levels seem to trigger migraine headaches in women with a family history of migraine behavior. This is evident during the menstrual cycle when estrogen levels drop.
Women may also suffer migraines during pregnancy or menopause. Again this is hormonally related. Birth control pills may also affect estrogen levels.
Many people suffer migraine symptoms and headaches from specific foods. For them beer, red wine, aged cheeses, chocolate, aspartame and caffeine are migraine triggers. Other people find that skipping meals also brings about a migraine headache.
Both men and women find that some foods seem to trigger a migraine headache, including alcohol (especially beer and red wine), aged cheeses, chocolate, aspartame and caffeine. And, while some foods trigger a migraine headache, other people find that skipping meals or fasting will also trigger a migraine headache.
Incidental factors can bring about migraine symptoms. Stress, bright lights, sun glare, and loud noises to mention a few. Even pleasant smells from perfume can cause a reaction. Lack of sleep can cause a migraine headache. But for others too much sleep can also trigger a migraine. Changes in the weather or barometric pressure as well as certain medications can aggravate a condition. Physical exertion including from sexual activity can instigate a migraine headache.
Researchers using imaging technology have found that during a regular headache the vasculature or blood vessels of the brain constrict. During a migraine headache the blood vessels become larger or dilated. This releases chemicals that cause inflammation, pain, and further enlargement of the artery.
The sympathetic nervous system responds with nausea, diarrhea, and sometimes vomiting. The small intestine seems paralyzed. There is a decrease in food absorption. Blood circulation slows and leads to cold hands and feet. Then there is the sensitivity to light and sound.
Decreases in magnesium level increase the risk factors. People with corrected magnesium deficiency tend to lead more normal lives with less migraine headaches. Magnesium can be traced to unrelated conditions such as anxiety, depression, heart palpitations, temporomandibular joint syndrome, muscle cramps, and noise sensitivity.
There is help available. Researchers may be able to identify and mitigate the migraine triggers for an individual. Controlling this condition leads to decreased pain and discomfort. Perhaps the migraine can be aborted altogether. There are medications, nutritional advice, and exercise recommendations which help both the treatment and the prevention.
Pain and suffering may be restricted to a short time span. The persistent application of advice from a neurologist or primary care physician knowledgeable in migraine headaches can lead to a full and productive life.