Why Do Migraines Happen?

If you have ever had a migraine, you know that it is so much more than just a headache. In fact, migraines are in a different category than headaches because they are a neurological condition. The mix up may be due to the fact that headaches are one of the main symptom of migraines, although not every migraine episode will include a headache. The other symptoms that come with migraines include the following:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light, sound, and certain odors
  • Vertigo or dizziness
  • Visual disturbances
  • Extreme fatigue

Nausea and vomiting are awful symptoms to have, but why are they a part of the migraine line up? This question has remained a mystery for the medical community in their continual search for answers surrounding migraines. Theories that exist blame the nausea and vomiting on migraine-produced brain chemicals, trauma, genetics, poor diet, environment, or a number of other reasons. None have been confirmed or unanimously agreed upon, but the more imperative thing that migraine sufferers want to know is how to keep these miserable symptoms away.

Migraine Triggers

One way to reduce the number of migraines you experience is to figure out what triggers your migraines. These usually vary from person to person. Once you’ve discovered what your personal triggers are, it makes it possible for you to both avoid them and reduce the frequency of your migraine episodes.

  1. Stress: Whether your stress has suddenly increased or decreased, both could result in migraines. Approximately 50 to 80 percent of migraine patients identify this to be their trigger. Some individuals can sense a migraine coming on after they have dealt with a stressor, while others deal with it in the middle of a stressful event.
  2. Lack of sleep or jet lag: This factor is one of the most common ones connected to migraines. Not getting enough sleep or getting too much sleep can cause problems as well. Work schedule changes or jet lag can also result in migraines. People who have insomnia tend to be at a higher risk, not only for migraines but also for anxiety and depression.
  3. Food additives: Aspartame, among other artificial sweeteners, are known migraine triggers. What is interesting is that it has also been found to worsen clinical depression. A popular additive used to enhance the flavor of foods is called MSG and is also associated with migraine onset.
  4. Dehydration or hunger: Eating infrequently can be dangerous for migraine sufferers because it is linked to drops in blood sugar levels. Dehydration is another trigger that may lead to a migraine episode. About 40% of people report having migraines because they did not have enough to drink.
  5. Caffeinated beverages: Watch your intake of caffeine from soft drinks, tea, coffee, and energy drinks because the amount of caffeine from these could result in a migraine. However, a decrease in the amount of caffeine intake can lead to withdrawals, which for many people means migraine episodes. Another important thing to remember is that over-the-counter medications can contain caffeine.
  6. Medication overuse: One surprising trigger is the overuse of medications that are meant to alleviate migraines. These medications can actually cause headaches to come back worse than before. This is usually called a rebound headache, and it can become a terrible cycle of taking medication to combat migraines, only to cause increase and worsen the headaches.
  7. Alcohol: The most common trigger for migraines is alcohol. Specifically, red wine is a very common culprit.
  8. Strong or odd odors: Perfumes, cigarette smoke, and strong food odors can cause a migraine attack or worsen one that is already happening. This is known as osmophobia.
  9. Bright lights and loud noises: Bright, flickering lights – even sunlight – is known to be a trigger for some people. Sunglasses are an important piece of equipment for those who are sensitive to light.
  10. Medications: Certain medications like opioids and butalbital have been recognized as a problem.
  11. Weather changes: Many studies have found that certain kinds of days that are sunny and clear, hot, or cold, and changes in weather can be migraine triggers. Lightning also appears to be connected to migraines, but no one is really sure why.
  12. Hormones: Women have three times as many headaches as men. This could be a result of hormone fluctuations, since many women get menstrual migraines. The use of oral contraceptives or becoming pregnant can increase the severity of migraine attacks. Some women get relief after menopause.
  13. Physical activity: Strenuous physical activity may trigger migraines. Up to 38% of people from a recent study experienced this, which caused many of them to give up their favorite sport or exercise.
  14. Food: Another major trigger is specific foods. Particularly for women, things like alcohol, chocolate, and red wine are often triggers. Other foods include aged cheeses, salami and other processed meats, citrus fruit, MSG, and artificial sweeteners.

The Root Reason for Migraines

May times, the root reason for migraines is connected to a misalignment in the bones of the upper neck. This kind of issue can lead to the brainstem sending improper signals to the brain as well as a hinderance of blood flow. The nerves located within these bones can become irritated by this misalignment too.

Here at Providence Chiropractic in Edmonton, Alberta, we use a gentle method to encourage restored alignment to the upper bones of the spine. Many of our migraine patients and those in case studies have experienced positive results from as few as one or two adjustments.

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