Migraine Headaches : A Basic Overview

Types of Migraine Headaches

Migraine headache is one of the most common problems reported by people worldwide. Though several people are charged with it, they aren’t many who are aware of what exactly the ailment is, what are its causes, and its signs and symptoms.

Types of Migraine Headaches

What is Migraine Headache?

Migraine headache is nothing but a disabling headache that usually stems from problems associated with blood cells, and nerves present in the head. The ailment is usually accompanied by throbbing pain and can last for several hours to several days. It may occur several times a week and even once a year.

Whether you are aware of the fact or not, around 15% of the population is targeted with migraine headaches. In addition, women are three times at a greater risk of the ailment in comparison to men.

What Causes Migraine Headache?

The exact cause behind migraine headaches is still unknown. However, researchers have revealed that it is caused due to expansion of blood vessels followed by the release of chemicals, which in turn lead to inflammation followed by severe pain.

Besides the above-mentioned medical reasoning, there are various triggers that are known to cause migraine. It must be mentioned that different people have different triggers.

However, some of the common triggers are mentioned below –

Consumption of certain food items such as nuts, cheese, chocolates, and alcohol brings migraine headaches in several people.

Missing a meal is also known to promote migraine headaches.

Few people get migraine at times of physical or emotional stress.

An alteration in the daily sleep routine may also onset migraine headaches.

Women who take birth control pills are also at an increased risk of migraine headaches. They are usually targeted at the end of their cycle when the birth control pill is stopped.

Other causes include environmental factors, hereditary factors, allergic reactions, and even a certain smell or odor.

What are the Symptoms of Migraine Headache?

Symptoms of migraine headaches are known to vary from person to person. However, here is a list of a few common symptoms associated with migraine headaches –

The most significant symptom of migraine headache is throbbing pain, which may appear on either one or both sides of the brain.

Vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, facial pallor, cold feet, cold hands, and sensitivity to sound and light are usually accompanied by migraine headaches.

A visual disturbance in the aura may also be seen, and the patients may see splashes of white and black or colored lights. 

Know About Migraine Headache Triggers

Migraine headache is one of the most common ailments today. According to the statics, women are more susceptible to the ailment than men due to the presence of the hormone estrogen. The throbbing pain can range from mild to intense and may occur on either one or both sides of the head. In intense cases, sufferers may even have to lie down in a cool and dark place and take an optimum rest till the pain passes.

It might surprise you, but the exact cause behind migraine headaches is still not known. As a result, it is not very easy to cure and treat the problem. Henceforth, the main focus of most of the treatments applied by the doctors is to stop the migraine chain reaction before it initiates. According to the research and theories, there are several migraine headache triggers, which can be recognized as well as controlled. Let us now know in detail about migraine headache triggers.

What are Migraine Headache Triggers?

Migraine headache triggers are nothing but specific internal as well as external factors that increase the chances of having a headache. It must be mentioned that these triggers do not cause migraine headaches directly. Instead, they are known to promote the process which is responsible for causing migraine in people prone to the condition.

Migraine headache triggers are hugely varied. They can be certain environmental factors, foods, hormones, chemicals, and many other things. However, these triggers are completely individual. What may affect one person may not necessarily affect another person. In addition, a certain trigger may not also always cause migraine to a specific sufferer. By closely observing the trend, the triggers can be easily identified. However, there are several migraine triggers that are known to be quite common among sufferers.

What are Common Migraine Headache Triggers?

Common triggers of migraine headaches include several factors such as hormonal changes, environmental factors, stress, lack of sleep, food items, medications, health conditions, and many more. Not necessarily every migraine headache sufferer may be sensitive to the common triggers, but literally, every sufferer is believed to be affected by some trigger or the other. In addition, it is also believed that it is a combination of triggers, which provokes the migraine headache.

Here is a list of some common migraine headache triggers:

  • Hormonal Changes

Women are associated with several hormonal changes and fluctuations, which are associated with drop in the estrogen level, and may trigger the migraine headache. A few examples are during pregnancy, ovulation, menstruation, menopause or when on birth control pills, or when receiving hormone-replacement therapy.

  • Dietary Triggers

Various food items do not necessarily trigger migraine headaches in all individuals.  In certain, certain food items may only trigger migraine under specific circumstances only. Keeping a close watch over the diet is known to assist one in recognizing the dietary triggers.

  • Beverages

Beverages such as cocoa, chocolate, beer, red wine, dark alcohols such as vermouth, sherry, whiskey, coffee, any other caffeine-based drinks, or certain soups such as those made from meat, bouillon, or simply canned soup are known to trigger migraine headache in several individuals.

  • Fruits

Dried fruits such as raisings and figs, bananas and avocados (particularly when they are ripe), red plums, papayas, raspberries, strawberries, kiwi fruit, eggplant, and pineapple are classified as common food triggers. Various citrus fruits may also trigger headaches if consumed beyond ½ to 1 cup a day.

  • Vegetables

Beans such as string beans, lima, pinto, garbanzo, fava, broad, pole, Italiano, raw garlic, chili pepper, mushrooms, lentils, onions, olives, pickles, snow peas, and tomatoes are certain vegetables, which are known to provoke migraine headache.

  • Animal Products

Processed, aged, canned or cured meat, bologna, bacon, smoked fish, salted dried beef, canned beef, chicken liver, pepperoni, hot dogs, sausages, sardines and snails are the common animal product triggers.

  • Dairy Products

Various dairy products such as sour cream, buttermilk, yoghurt, and certain varieties of cheese such as parmesan, mozzarella, cheddar, swiss, stilton, romano, provolone, gruyere, gouda, camembert, brie and blue are dairy product triggers. Besides these, yeast containing pastries, dough, and breads may also trigger the headache. Mincemeat pie, chocolate pudding, cakes and cookies also fall within this category.

  • Food Ingredients

Certain ingredients which are added to food items as additives are also classified as triggers. These include gluten, caffeine, benzoic acid, glutamic acid, malt extract, hydrogenated oil, sodium nitrate, tannins, sulfites, textured protein and many more.

  • Miscellaneous Items

Besides the above categorized items, there are several miscellaneous triggers, which provoke migraine headache. These include pepper mint, salty food items, vinegar (balsamic and red), pre- made sauces such as mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, soya sauce, teriyaki sauce, Worcestershire sauce, seasoned salt, chewing gum, candies, licorice, imitation crab, cheese sauce, pizza, lasagna, sunflower or pumpkin or sesame seeds, nut butter and more.

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