Migraine Triggers: What Causes Migraines
Although there is not yet a definitive cause for migraines, researchers have noted that changes in brain chemicals, such as a decrease in the brain chemical serotonin, can trigger the condition. Other factors that may provoke a migraine include:
- Bright lights
- Alcohol or caffeinated drinks
If youre uncertain what your migraine triggers are, your doctor may ask you to keep a headache journal. Recording your activities, the foods you eat, and the medications you take before your migraine strikes may help pinpoint your migraine triggers.
I: Trigger Pointsthe Effects Of Muscle Knots On Breathing
Trigger points better known as muscle knots can cause shortness of breath. They are small patches of sensitive muscle tissue, maybe caused by a micro cramp, or possibly neurological hypersensitivity. Trigger points are a big, tricky topic.
Trigger points may form in the muscles we use to breathe, making it difficult or even painful to move the ribs and expand the chest. Even the diaphragm itself might develop trigger points that make it feel weak and tired, and limit its range of contraction.8
Quick muscle knot orientation: So-called muscle knots AKA trigger points are small unexplained sore spots in muscle tissue associated with stiffness and soreness. No one doubts that they are there, but they are unexplained and controversial. They can be surprisingly intense, cause pain in confusing patterns, and they grow like weeds around other painful problems and injuries, but most healthcare professionals know little about them, so misdiagnosis is epidemic. For more information about how trigger points might be involved in your own medical history, see PainScience.coms popular e-book: The Complete Guide to Trigger Points & Myofascial Pain: An extremely detailed guide to the unfinished science of muscle pain, with reviews of every theory and treatment option.
Trigger points in the muscles of the throat, neck, chest, and back may also interfere with the nervous systems control of respiration.9
What Are The Types Of Headaches What Type Of Headache Is A Migraine
There are over 150 types of headaches, divided into two categories: primary headaches and secondary headaches. A migraine is a primary headache, meaning that it isnt caused by a different medical condition. Primary headache disorders are clinical diagnoses, meaning theres no blood test or imaging study to diagnose it. A secondary headache is a symptom of another health issue.
You May Like: How To Cure Migraine Naturally
When To Call A Professional
If you have a history of migraine, you should contact your doctor if you develop headaches that differ from your usual headache or other migraine symptoms. Examples include:
- Headaches that get worse over time
- New onset of migraine in a person over age 40
- Severe headaches that start suddenly
- Headaches that worsen with exercise, sexual intercourse, coughing or sneezing
- Headaches with unusual symptoms such as passing out, loss of vision, or difficulty walking or speaking
- Headaches that start after a head injury
In addition, you may want to see your health care professional if you have headaches that do not get better with over-the-counter medications severe headaches that interrupt work or the enjoyment of daily activities or daily headaches.
What Causes A Migraine
One prevailing theory is that migraines are caused by rapid waves of brain cell activity crossing the cortex, the thin outer layer of brain tissue, followed by periods of no activity. The name for this phenomenon is cortical spreading depression.
Cortical spreading depression makes sense as a cause of aura, but researchers have also linked it to headache. Proponents cite experimental evidence that suggests it sets off inflammatory and other processes that stimulate pain receptors on the trigeminal nerves. This “neurogenic” inflammation and the release of other factors make the receptors and the parts of the brain that receive their signals increasingly sensitive, so migraine becomes more likely.
Some leading researchers have expressed doubt about whether migraines start with cortical spreading depression. Experimental drugs that inhibit cortical spreading depression have shown a preventive effect on aura, but not on migraine headache.
So, say some researchers, migraines are best explained as beginning lower in the brain, in the brainstem, which controls basic functions, such as respiration and responses to pain, and modulates many others, including incoming sensory information. The theory is that if certain areas of the brainstem aren’t working properly or are easily excited, they’re capable of starting cascades of neurological events, including cortical spreading depression, that account for migraine’s multiple symptoms.
Read Also: List Of Prescription Drugs For Migraines
Coping With Shortness Of Breath From Anxiety
Those that are experiencing severe shortness of breath may still want to see a doctor. Shortness of breath is a common effect of anxiety, but only a medical professional can give you an accurate diagnosis. For those whose shortness of breath is caused by anxiety, you’ll need to take two approaches:
- Short term coping.
- Long term coping.
In the short term, you’ll need to recognise that you may be hyperventilating and try to consciously avoid the temptation to over-breathe. During an panic attack, you may simply need to wait it out – they generally peak after 10 minutes and subside soon after. Traditionally breathing into a paper bag was suggested, but there are other more successful ways that you can control your breathing. You can try the following:
Shortness of breath, when related to anxiety, will go away once your breathing returns to a normal rate. If you can control overcompensating by trying to get too much air, you should be able to get your breathing to feel natural again.
Whats A Migraine Journal
- Keeping a migraine journal is not only beneficial to you, but it helps your healthcare provider with the diagnosis process. Your journal should be detailed and updated as much as possible before, during and after a migraine attack. Consider keeping track of the following:
- The date and time of when the migraine began specifically when the prodrome started, if youre able to tell its happening. Track time passing. When did the aura phase begin? The headache? The postdrome? Do your best to tell what stage youre in and how long it lasts. If theres a pattern, that may help you anticipate what will happen in the future.
- What are your symptoms? Be specific.
- Note how many hours of sleep you got the night before it happened and your stress level. Whats causing your stress?
- Note the weather.
- Log your food and water intake. Did you eat something that triggered the migraine? Did you miss a meal?
- Describe the type of pain and rate it on a one to 10 scale with 10 being the worst pain youve ever experienced.
- Where is the pain located? One side of your head? Your jaw? Your eye?
- List all of the medications you took. This includes any daily prescriptions, any supplements and any pain medication you took.
- How did you try to treat your migraine, and did it work? What medicine did you take, at what dosage, at what time?
- Consider other triggers. Maybe you played basketball in the sunlight? Maybe you watched a movie that had flashing lights? If youre a woman, are you on your period?
Also Check: Migraine Goes Away After Vomiting
What Are Breathing Problems
Breathing problems can be caused by numerous sources. They may be due to asthma, heart problems or allergies. In the case of water retention, the breathing problem is due to excessive buildup of fluid in the lungs.
Normally, the blood circulates throughout the body without any issues. When the heart is not working correctly, the blood cannot remove fluids and toxins. In serious cases, the fluid may remain within lung tissue. This can make it difficult to breath. In addition, it can lead to a higher incidence of pneumonia or other infections. Other cases of fluid retention may be caused by cirrhosis of the liver, preeclampsia, menopause, kidney failure or premenstrual syndrome.
Know Your Triggers Prevent Headaches
The more you know about what causes your headaches, the better prepared you are to prevent and stop them.
Many headaches, especially migraines, are triggered by certain foods, activities or changes to your environment. If you know your triggers, you can work to avoid them. Common triggers include:
Changes in your normal routine
Regular exercise and drinking plenty of water can help prevent headaches. Exercise reduces stress and helps relieve muscle tension.
Treatments and research
Recommended Reading: Is Sativa Or Indica Better For Migraines
Other Health Conditions That Can Cause Shortness Of Breath
Besides COVID-19, many other health conditions can trigger shortness of breath. Here are some of the most common:
- Asthma. This obstructive lung disease causes the lining of your airways to swell, nearby muscles to tighten, and mucus to build up in your airways. This blocks the amount of air that can pass into your lungs.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.COPD is a group of progressive lung diseases, the most common of which are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. They can restrict your outward airflow, or lead to swelling and narrowing of the bronchial tubes, as well as mucus buildup.
- Myocardial infarction. Also known as a heart attack, it can decrease blood and oxygen flow to and from your heart and lungs. This can lead to congestion in these organs, making it harder to breathe.
- Interstitial lung disease .ILD includes more than 200 conditions that affect the airways, blood vessels, and air sacs inside your lungs. ILD leads to scarring and inflammation around the air sacs in your lungs, which makes it harder for your lungs to expand.
Spotting Physiology In Everyday Life
COVID-19the viral respiratory infection caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2is a rapidly evolving disease that will undoubtedly profoundly affect many, if not all, of our lives in one way or another.
As we learn more about the disease, we can better understand how and why it affects people so differently. We dont have a clear picture yet of why symptoms vary so much, but we do know that acute respiratory distress syndrome is one of the more common life-threatening complications of the infection. ARDS is when your bodys natural immune response to an infection becomes harmful to your body instead of protective.
The lungs main job is to do simple gas exchange. We breathe in air and use oxygen to make energy to power all of the bodys normal functions. We breathe out carbon dioxide, which is a waste product of that energy production. This exchange is done in the alveoli, a structure in our lungs that looks like a cluster of grapes. Those grape clusters need to be surrounded by small blood vessels called capillaries to be able to bring oxygen into our body and unload the carbon dioxide weve been carrying in our blood. The capillaries connect what is happening in the lung to the rest of the body.
Karla Haack, PhD, is a lecturer of anatomy and physiology at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw, Georgia. She is the chair of the American Physiological Societys Diversity & Inclusion Committee.
Also Check: Can You Get Disability For Migraines
Our Experts Use Multiple Approaches
Our headache clinic team is led by neurologists. They are specialists in treating conditions of the nerves and nervous system. Our doctors are trained to diagnose and treat all types of headaches.
Our doctors work with other providers to provide complete care for your whole self. Integrative health providers combine Western medicine with natural medicine therapies such as acupuncture and yoga. Interventional pain specialists use injections and nerve blocks to stop and reduce pain. Pain psychologists treat the emotional aspects of chronic pain with strategies like behavioral therapy and guided imagery. Physical therapists use exercises to reduce muscle tension and build strength.
Patient and support services
What Can I Do To Prevent Migraines
One of the best ways to prevent migraines is to try to avoid the things that might trigger your attacks. Most people benefit from trying to get stable sleep, eating regular meals, drinking plenty of fluids to keep hydrated, and trying to manage stress. Taking regular exercise may also help prevent migraines since it helps with breathing, improving blood sugar balance and maintaining general wellbeing. Although you should take care not to engage in very strenuous activity that your body is not used to as this can sometimes act as a migraine trigger.
Keeping a diary of your migraines can be a useful way to record when and where you experience attacks, check for any patterns, and try to identify your triggers. Take the diary when you see your GP so you can communicate your symptoms with them and they can find the best way to help you.
You May Like: Migraine Weather
How Are Migraines Treated
Migraine headaches are chronic. They cant be cured, but they can be managed and possibly improved. There are two main treatment approaches that use medications: abortive and preventive.
- Abortive medications are most effective when you use them at the first sign of a migraine. Take them while the pain is mild. By possibly stopping the headache process, abortive medications help stop or decrease your migraine symptoms, including pain, nausea, light sensitivity, etc. Some abortive medications work by constricting your blood vessels, bringing them back to normal and relieving the throbbing pain.
- Preventive medications may be prescribed when your headaches are severe, occur more than four times a month and are significantly interfering with your normal activities. Preventive medications reduce the frequency and severity of the headaches. Medications are generally taken on a regular, daily basis to help prevent migraines.
Evenings That Begin With Wine And Cheese Can End In Headache
For some people, alcohol can be a migraine trigger, although the type of alcohol that triggers a migraine attack in one person may be different from the type that triggers an attack in another. Red wine and beer appear to be common triggers for many.
But with no hard and fast rules on which types of alcohol to avoid, you will need to rely on your personal experience to determine what, if anything, is safe for you to drink.
Keep in mind, too, that triggers tend to be additive, so you may find that alcohol triggers a migraine attack primarily when youre stressed, premenstrual, or have had inadequate sleep. This is where keeping a migraine diary can help you sort out what your triggers really are.
Of course, drinking too much of any type of alcohol can result in the type of headache known as a hangover. Consuming plenty of water or other nonalcoholic beverages along with alcohol can help you stay hydrated while you drink and may also help you moderate your intake of alcohol.
And what about the cheese that you may enjoy along with your drink?
Some people find that aged cheeses such as Parmesan or cheddar are migraine triggers. Processed meats, such as salami, summer sausage, and lunch meats, can also trigger headaches or migraine attacks for some.
You May Like: Are Migraines A Symptom Of Pregnancy
Long Term Treatment For Shortness Of Breath
In the long term, the key is to get both your breathing and your anxiety under control.
Breathing strategies tend to focus on “retraining” the mind to breathe correctly.If you have been experiencing anxiety you may have become very used to breathing too quickly. Many experts recommend deep breathing exercises. They’re a form of relaxation exercise that involves sitting still and learning to breathe slowly through your stomach instead of your chest.
These exercises can be lead by an instructor, or you could find a script on a relaxation CD or video. Research suggests that practicing breath training will help your body learn to breathe better, and ultimately prevent hyperventilation. Yoga and meditation also have deep breathing components, and these can help you retrain the way you breathe.
Still, the most important treatment is going to be learning to control your anxiety. Only by managing your anxiety and limiting its symptoms will anxiety-related shortness of breath go away, and will it become possible to reduce any stress you experience during shortness of breath episodes.
Anxiety is a very treatable condition. You can learn to control this anxiety by:
Anxiety is very treatable. With the right techniques, you can overcome your anxiety, manage your symptoms, and experience a better quality of life.
Was this article helpful?
High Or Persistent Fever
The big worries: Fever is your body’s way of fighting infection. But “fever of 103 degrees and higher warrants a trip to the doctor period,” says David Bronson, M.D., president of the American College of Physicians. It may indicate a urinary tract infection, pneumonia, endocarditis or meningitis, which may require antibiotics to clear up. A persistent low-grade fever for several weeks with no obvious cause is characteristic of some infections, including a sinus infection, and some cancers, like lymphoma and leukemia. “Cancer is on the list of things we think about, but it is usually not the first thing,” says Ronan Factora, M.D., a geriatrician at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
What else it might be: Fever can be triggered by a virus, which, depending on your health and other symptoms, may require hospitalization.
Recommended Reading: Migraine Cures When Pregnant
Causes Of Headaches And Nausea
Common causes of headaches and nausea
Migraine. Many people who have migraine headaches often have stomach problems at the same time. In fact, 8 out of every 10 people in the U.S. with these headaches say they get nausea along with them.
Some folks are more likely to get nausea with a migraine, like women and people who are prone to motion sickness.
Certain conditions associated with migraine are more likely to cause nausea or vomiting than others. These include:
- Migraine with or without aura. Those without aura cause severe head pain, sensitivity to light, and nausea. People who have migraines with aura typically have warning symptoms 20 minutes to 1 hour before the headache begins, like nausea, vision problems, and dizziness.
- Abdominal migraine. In rare cases, children have migraines that cause stomach pain instead of a headache. Those can make them feel nauseated or vomit.
- Benign paroxysmal vertigo. This can be a precursor of migraine in kids, but it can happen in anyone, even without a history of migraine. It usually happens to people over 60. They often feel like the room is moving or spinning. They may get sick to their stomach or vomit.
- Cyclic vomiting syndrome. It causes people, usually children, to have periods of nausea and vomiting that can last hours or days. The condition isnât a type of migraine, but the two seem to be connected. Many kids who have cyclic vomiting syndrome go on to have migraine as adults.
Rare causes of headaches and nausea