Headache & Migraine

What Is a Migraine?
A migraine is a headache with throbbing pain that is usually worse on one side of the head. The pain is often severe enough to hamper daily activities and may last from four hours to three days if untreated. Many have been told mistakenly that they have a sinus or tension headache. Foods, stress, and hormones can be migraine triggers.

 

 

Migraine Symptoms

Throbbing pain typically occurs on one side near the temples, forehead, and eyes. Migraines can make you very sensitive to light, sound, or mild exertion, such as climbing the stairs. Many people have nausea, vomiting, or vision problems. The pain can be disabling, forcing people to miss work or other activities.
Migraine Warning Signs
Some people may have a change in mood before a migraine begins. They may become more excitable or irritable or depressed. Others may detect a sensation, such as a funny smell or taste. They may feel more fatigued, yawn frequently, or experience muscle tension. About 1 in 4 people experience this prodrome phase, which can occur as early as 24 hours before any head pain.

What Causes a Migraine?

The exact cause of migraines is still not well understood, but the problem is considered to be neurological (related to the nervous system).

What Triggers Migraine? 

  • Trigger: Anxiety and Stress

Emotional stress is a common trigger of migraines. While it's impossible to completely avoid stress, relaxation exercises can help you cope. Inhale and exhale slowly, letting the air fill you and then deflate like a balloon. Some people find that thinking of a peaceful scene or listening to favorite music can help.

  • Trigger; Lack of Food or Sleep

It's important for people prone to migraines to have a regular pattern of meals and sleep. Low blood sugar from skipping meals can trigger a migraine. Eating too much sugar also can cause a spike, then a "crash" in blood sugar. Drink water throughout the day to avoid dehydration and sleep at least 6 to 8 hours a night.

  • Trigger: Hormonal Changes

For many women, migraines are tied to their menstrual cycle, occurring either a few days before or during their period, when estrogen levels drop. Some women may benefit from anti-inflammatory medication before their headaches begin, or hormonal birth control such as pills, patches, or rings. Others may have no benefit or worse migraines with hormonal birth control.

  • Trigger: Headache Foods

Migraine sufferers often report that certain foods trigger their headaches. Common culprits include MSG, red wine, cheese, chocolate, soy sauce, and processed meats. However, scientific studies haven't confirmed any particular food as a migraine trigger.

  • Trigger: Tyramine

Aged, fermented, and stored foods have higher levels of tyramine, a substance created from the breakdown of the amino acid tyrosine. Tyramine may cause blood vessels to constrict then expand, and it may be a trigger for some migraines. Some headache experts advise limiting fermented or aged foods, such as cheese, soy sauce, pickles, and pepperoni.

 

Calculating Your Headache Burden

"Headache burden" is how much your life is affected by your migraines. A simple questionnaire asks how many times you have missed work, school, or family or leisure activities because of your migraines.

 

 

 

 

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