Migraine – Understanding The Triggers
Dealing with migraines, at times, can get debilitating. While the pain-relievers and preventive medications can help manage the condition, it is equally important for you to know what possible factors can trigger them. Avoiding these can help keep severe headaches at bay and help you function healthily in everyday life.
In this article, we discuss some of the factors that can contribute to a migraine episode.
Is there any specific cause for migraine?
At this moment, it is hard to pinpoint what exactly causes migraine. Researchers believe that a combination of genetic and environmental factors are responsible for this condition. Some studies have suggested that alterations in the brainstem and the way it interacts with the trigeminal nerve (a primary pain pathway) could be one of the chief causes. This could cause an imbalance in the chemical makeup of the brain, mainly involving a drop in serotonin levels—this helps manage pain in the nervous system. Currently, research is underway to determine the role of serotonin and neurotransmitters like CGRP (calcitonin gene-related peptide) in migraine development.
If someone in your family has had a migraine, then you are more prone to get them than a person without a family history of the condition. Likewise, women are 3 times more likely to suffer from this condition than men. While migraine can begin at any age, the first episode typically occurs during the teenage years. These recurrent headaches then become more serious during your 30s and tend to become less painful later on in life.
What are the different types of migraine triggers?
There is nothing that can guarantee the prevention of this condition, however, you can take precautions by getting acquainted with different types of triggers. Let’s take a look at them.
Hormonal changes in women
Fluctuations in estrogen that commonly occur before or after periods, pregnancy, and menopause can trigger migraine headaches in many cases. Moreover, it has been found that oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy can further worsen the symptoms. Interestingly, some women have noticed that the frequency of their migraine lowers when they were on such hormonal treatments.
Too much of emotional tension prompts the brain to release stress hormones that can set off a migraine.
Some could experience severe headaches after having caffeinated drinks or alcohols like wine.
Processed and salty foods and aged cheese like blue cheese can bring on a migraine episode. Flavor enhancers like monosodium glutamate and artificial sweeteners can trigger headaches too.
At times, bright lights, strong smells, and loud sounds can induce migraines in some individuals.
Apart from oral contraceptives, vasodilators like nitroglycerin can also trigger migraines. Likewise, if you have been taking migraine medications for more than 10 days, then it might set off another episode known as a rebound headache.
For some people, migraine could be triggered due to sudden changes in the weather including bright sunlight, dry air, high humidity, windy, or stormy weather.
Intense physical workouts and at times, even sexual intercourse, could induce a migraine as well.
Missing a meal could cause the blood sugar to drop that could trigger a headache.
Changes in sleep patterns
Erratic sleep patterns like getting too much or too little sleep can induce a migraine.
You can’t always avoid triggers, but most of the times, you can take necessary precautions to keep migraine symptoms at bay for a longer time. Adopting a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting adequate sleep can help lower the frequencies or decrease the intensity of the condition. You can also try relaxation techniques, acupuncture, biofeedback, cognitive behavioral therapy, and vitamin supplements to ease existing symptoms and prevent another episode.
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