Causes Of Migraine Headaches

June 15, 2010

in Migraines, Migraines, Sleep-affecting Disorders, Videos

The human brain largely still remains a mystery to science, and common brain-related maladies such as migraine headaches are not fully understood. However, research has pinpointed several suspected causes of migraine headaches, and they include both environmental and genetic triggers. Scientists currently believe that migraine headaches emanate from changes in the trigeminal nerve which serves as a major pathway to the brain. It is believed that these changes are tied to a drop in the seratonin level — seratonin being the chemical which regulates the nervous system’s pain indicators. Research has shown that a variety of conditions or events can start this process in motion reducing seratonin thus impacting the trigeminal nerve resulting in a migraine headache. These headaches can entail severe pain, loss of sleep and consequent poor work performance along with dysfunction within your personal life.

Changes in hormone levels have been shown to be one of the causes of migraine headaches. Hormonal changes are almost always associated with females, and they can ensue during menstrual periods, pregnancy or menopause. In some instances, oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy can serve to exacerbate migraine headaches. For some, foods and/or beverages can be the root causes of migraine headaches. Alcoholic beverages, especially red wine, have been correlated to the onset of migraines. Foods which have been shown to be causes of migraine headaches include cheeses (especially aged ones), caffeine, aspartame and chocolate. A major offender when it comes to foods associated with migraines is monosodium glutamate (MSG) which is commonly found in many Chinese restaurant dishes.

Certain outside stimulus are listed within the causes of migraine headaches. These can be sensory stimuli such as bright or flashing lights. Loud or cacophonous noise can also trigger a migraine — as many sufferers are well aware. Mental stimulus including stress and anxiety are also proven causes of migraine headaches. Weather changes can also entail both sensory and physical stimuli capable of causing a migraine. Intense physical exertion can also trigger a migraine — this includes exertion within the realm of sexual activity. In many instances, a combination of these causes of migraine headaches team up in order to create the perfect storm triggering the most painful of episodes.

Everyone’s physiological and environmental circumstances are unique, and it often devolves to the individual to notice which stimuli result in their migraine headaches. It is imperative to immediately take notice of migraine headaches symptoms and seek to identify which food and/or outside stimuli most immediately preceded it. This can help you narrow down your personal causes of migraine headaches and adapt your habits to help prevent or minimize their frequency and intensity.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Leida Freid October 26, 2010 at 8:50 pm

Thanks. Thanks for putting up this. Its always great to see someone educate the public.


Dave July 21, 2011 at 9:43 pm

I’ve gotten migraines off and on for my whole life and I’ve found some patterns for myself. Everyone’s triggers are different but since it might help someone pinpoint a trigger for themselves I will post here.

– They vary greatly entirely by location (I’ve moved around / travel a lot). I get them all the time in NYC. Almost never in northern California or Southern Arizona. Occasionally in the UK.

– Consistently I get them after eating eggplant, so I’ve taken that off the shopping list.

– In certain climates (London, Boston) also get them if it’s going to thunder shower or if the humidity and pressure fluctuate wildly, as happens before a thunderstorm.

I realize these all seem completely random, and they are! But avoiding those certain foods and places has brought down the migraine occurrence substantially and made my life that much better.


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