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What Are Migraines Caused By

What Is An Aura

What causes migraines?

An aura is a group of sensory, motor and speech symptoms that usually act like warning signals that a migraine headache is about to begin. Commonly misinterpreted as a seizure or stroke, it typically happens before the headache pain, but can sometimes appear during or even after. An aura can last from 10 to 60 minutes. About 15% to 20% of people who experience migraines have auras.

Aura symptoms are reversible, meaning that they can be stopped/healed. An aura produces symptoms that may include:

  • Seeing bright flashing dots, sparkles, or lights.
  • Blind spots in your vision.
  • Numb or tingling skin.

Will Migraine Medication Interfere With The Covid

The American Migraine Foundation states that there is currently no evidence migraine medication will interfere with the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccine. They also recommend against taking over-the-counter medications before the vaccination to help prevent side effects, such as ibuprofen.

Many types of migraine headaches can cause different symptoms. Some common migraine headache symptoms people experience include:

  • moderate to severe head pain on one or both sides of their head
  • throbbing, pounding, or pulsating head pain
  • pain that worsens with movement

Ocular Migraines And Aura

There are two types of migraines that are referred to as ocular migraines. Some people refer to migraines with auras as ocular migraines.

Some people experience an aura approximately 10 to 30 minutes before a migraine sets in. Aura symptoms can include:

  • numbness or tingling in the hands or face
  • feeling mentally foggy or fuzzy
  • disrupted sense of touch, taste, or smell
  • seeing blind spots, shimmering spots, flashing lights, or zig-zag lines

Not all people with migraines will experience auras.

Ocular migraines may also refer to eye-related migraines that come with visual disturbances that may or may not come with a headache pain. These are known as ophthalmic migraines. Ocular migraines can include some or all of the aura symptoms listed above. Ocular migraines are typically the result of migraine activity in the visual cortex of the brain.

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I Get Migraines Right Before My Period Could They Be Related To My Menstrual Cycle

More than half of migraines in women occur right before, during, or after a woman has her period. This often is called “menstrual migraine.” But, just a small fraction of women who have migraine around their period only have migraine at this time. Most have migraine headaches at other times of the month as well.

How the menstrual cycle and migraine are linked is still unclear. We know that just before the cycle begins, levels of the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, go down sharply. This drop in hormones may trigger a migraine, because estrogen controls chemicals in the brain that affect a woman’s pain sensation.

Talk with your doctor if you think you have menstrual migraine. You may find that medicines, making lifestyle changes, and home treatment methods can prevent or reduce the pain.

Whats A Migraine Journal

Migraine
  • 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?

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What Medicines Help Relieve Migraine Pain

For mild to moderate migraines, over-the-counter medicines that may help relieve migraine pain include:

  • aspirin
  • acetaminophen
  • an acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine combination
  • ibuprofen
  • naproxen
  • ketoprofen

People who have more severe migraines may need to try abortive prescription medicines. A medicine called ergotamine can be effective alone or combined with other medicines. Dihydroergotamine is related to ergotamine and can be helpful. Other prescription medicines for migraines include sumatriptan, zolmitriptan, naratriptan, rizatriptan, almotriptan, eletriptan, and frovatriptan.

If the pain wont go away, stronger pain medicine may be needed, such as a narcotic, or medicines that contain a barbiturate . These medicines can be habit-forming and should be used cautiously. Your doctor may prescribe these only if they are needed and only for a short period of time.

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.

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What Causes Ocular And Visual Migraines

The exact cause of an ocular migraine can be difficult to pinpoint. But it’s believed they occur for the same things that cause migraine headaches.

Migraine headaches have a genetic basis, and some studies say that up to 70% of people who suffer from the disorder have a family history of migraine.

According to the World Health Organization , migraines are caused by the activation of a mechanism deep in the brain that leads to release of pain-producing inflammatory substances around the nerves and blood vessels of the head.

Studies have shown changes in blood flow to the brain during ocular migraines and migraine auras . But exactly why this happens remains unclear.

Common migraine “triggers” that can cause a person to have a migraine attack include:

  • Certain foods

  • Caffeinated drinks

  • Artificial sweeteners

Stress and lack of sleep also can trigger an ocular migraine or visual migraine.

Tools To Manage Your Migraine

What causes migraines?

A comprehensive migraine treatment plan includes more than acute and preventive treatments. You also have to consider the non-drug treatments: lifestyle modifications, says Green. Were looking at all of these contributing factors and taking those into account in the overall comprehensive management plan for the patient. These comprehensive plans addressing all of these issues are important to give us our best chance of success in making people better going forward.

The American Migraine Foundation offers some tools to help with some of these lifestyle modifications. Our Meal Planning Toolkit helps you maintain a balanced diet and identify certain migraine triggers to avoid. And starting a headache diary can help track headache days and symptoms, and identify potential triggers that can provide insight into new ways to manage and treat your migraine.

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What Are The Symptoms Of Migraine

Different people may feel a distinct type of migraine symptoms. The symptoms include Prodrome, Aura, Attacks, and Postdromes.

  • Prodrome: Prodrome is the significant changes that can be seen before a migraine. It includes mood changes, food cravings, neck stiffness, constipation, and frequent yawning.
  • Aura: Aura is a warning signal of migraine headaches. It is a symptom of sensory-motor and speech symptoms. And it lasts for 60 minutes before or after a migraine. Aura symptoms include speech changes, vision problems, changes in smell or taste, the sound ringing in ears, and seeing black dots.
  • Attacks: Migraine attacks start with a dull ache and slowly they throbs or pulses. The pain can move one side of the head from the other. And sometimes it can be in front of the head. People may feel vomiting, nausea, and fainting. It can last about 4-72 hours.
  • Postdrome: It can last about a day after a headache. The symptoms include tiredness, unusually refreshed, lacking appetite or food craving, and muscle pain.

The Overuse Of Medication

Ironically, taking medication for chronic headaches can actually cause the recurrence of them. This type of headache is known as a rebound headache and is most often caused by taking certain medications daily to relieve headaches and then stopping them abruptly. Medications such as:

  • Opiate painkillers like hydrocodone or tramadol
  • Tricyclic antidepressants including Elavil
  • Migraine medications called triptans including Sumatriptan or Rizatriptan
  • NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories like Ibuprofen or Naproxen Sodium
  • Caffeine or combination medications containing caffeine including the prescriptions Cafergot and Fioricet as well as over-the-counter combination medicines like Excedrin Migraine

Medication overuse headaches are typically the result of using headache relief medications like the above for longer than 10 days. Treatment usually involved tapering the medication until it is discontinued, at which point the rebound headaches subside, and the normal headache pattern returns.

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What Are Rebound Migraines

Women who use acute pain-relief medicine more than two or three times a week or more than 10 days out of the month can set off a cycle called rebound. As each dose of medicine wears off, the pain comes back, leading the patient to take even more. This overuse causes your medicine to stop helping your pain and actually start causing headaches. Rebound headaches can occur with both over-the-counter and prescription pain-relief medicines. They can also occur whether you take them for headache or for another type of pain. Talk to your doctor if you’re caught in a rebound cycle.

Treating And Coping With Migraines

Migraine vs. headache: How to tell the difference

Even if the migraines exist alone and are not a symptom of an underlying condition, they can still be debilitating and impact your life. If youre experiencing blind spots or vision disturbances, for example, you will want to wait until they pass before driving.

Ocular migraines will typically go away on their own within 30 minutes. You should rest and avoid triggers such as bright lights until the vision disturbances are gone.

There are both over the counter treatments and prescription medications that can be used to treat recurring migraines. Over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen or Excedrin migraine can be used to reduce the symptoms of a migraine once you already have them. Your doctor can prescribe you:

Some of these prescription medications will be taken on a regular basis instead of an as-needed basis when you get the migraines.

If youre experiencing ocular migraine pain, you can:

  • lie down or sit in a dark, quiet room
  • massage your scalp with a lot of pressure
  • put pressure on your temples
  • put a damp towel over your forehead

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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.

What Is The Prognosis For People With Migraines

Migraines are unique to each individual. Likewise, how migraines are managed is also unique. The best outcomes are usually achieved by learning and avoiding personal migraine triggers, managing symptoms, practicing preventive methods, following the advice of your healthcare provider and reporting any significant changes as soon as they occur.

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Can Using Birth Control Pills Make My Migraines Worse

In some women, pills improve migraine. The pills may help reduce the number of attacks and their attacks may become less severe. But in other women, the pills may worsen their migraines. In still other women, taking birth control pills has no effect on their migraines.

The reason for these different responses is not well understood. For women whose migraines get worse when they take birth control pills, their attacks seem to occur during the last week of the cycle. This is because the last seven pills in most monthly pill packs don’t have hormones they are there to keep you in the habit of taking your birth control daily. Without the hormones, your body’s estrogen levels drop sharply. This may trigger migraine in some women.

Talk with your doctor if you think birth control pills are making your migraines worse. Switching to a pill pack in which all the pills for the entire month contain hormones and using that for three months in a row can improve headaches. Lifestyle changes, such as getting on a regular sleep pattern and eating healthy foods, can help too.

Bipoc Communities And Migraine

What Causes Migraine Disease? 5 Factors in Migraine Neurobiology

The prevalence of migraine among Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in the United States has not been well studied.

Headache

Of course, the prevalence of a disease doesnt tell the whole story. A paper in the Journal of the National Medical Association looked into the experience of headache among Black Americans and found that compared with white people with headache, African American headache patients are more likely to be diagnosed with comorbid depressive disorders report headaches that are more frequent and severe in nature have their headaches underdiagnosed and/or undertreated and discontinue treatment prematurely, regardless of socioeconomic status.

  • Only 47 percent of Black individuals with headaches have an official headache diagnosis, compared with 70 percent of white individuals.
  • Latinos with headaches are 50 percent less likely to receive a migraine diagnosis than white individuals.
  • Only 14 percent of Black patients with headache receive prescriptions for acute migraine medications, compared with 37 percent of white patients with headache.

Dr. Kiarashi also noted that BIPOC communities were underrepresented in migraine and headache research, based on the sample of studies on headache and migraine that her team reviewed.

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I’m Pregnant Can My Migraines Still Be Treated

Some migraine medicines should not be used when you are pregnant because they can cause birth defects and other problems. This includes over-the-counter medicines, such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Talk with your doctor if migraine is a problem while you are pregnant or if you are planning to become pregnant. Your doctor might suggest a medicine that will help you and that is safe during pregnancy. Home treatment methods, such as doing relaxation exercises and using cold packs, also might help ease your pain. The good news is that for most women migraines improve or stop from about the third month of the pregnancy.

Are There Different Kinds Of Migraine

Yes, there are many forms of migraine. The two forms seen most often are migraine with aura and migraine without aura.

Migraine with aura . With a migraine with aura, a person might have these sensory symptoms 10 to 30 minutes before an attack:

  • Seeing flashing lights, zigzag lines, or blind spots
  • Numbness or tingling in the face or hands
  • Disturbed sense of smell, taste, or touch
  • Feeling mentally “fuzzy”

Only one in five people who get migraine experience an aura. Women have this form of migraine less often than men.

Migraine without aura . With this form of migraine, a person does not have an aura but has all the other features of an attack.

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Top Triggers Of Migraine Headaches

Migraines can come on at any time causing a significant amount of discomfort. From severe throbbing and pain to nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound, migraine attacks can last for hours, even days.10%-15% of the U.S. population, mostly women, suffer from repeated migraines. Medications are available, but preventing the onset of a migraine can be difficult. While there are a number of different things that can cause migraine headaches, below are seven of the more common triggers people may experience.

Drink Caffeinated Tea Or Coffee

Migraine â Overview, causes, prevention and medication ...

Sipping on beverages that contain caffeine, such as tea or coffee, may provide relief when you are experiencing a headache.

Caffeine improves mood, increases alertness and constricts blood vessels, all of which can have a positive effect on headache symptoms .

It also helps increase the effectiveness of common medications used to treat headaches, such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen .

However, caffeine withdrawal has also been shown to cause headaches if a person regularly consumes large amounts of caffeine and suddenly stops.

Therefore, people who get frequent headaches should be mindful of their caffeine intake .

Certain herbs including feverfew and butterbur may reduce headache symptoms.

Feverfew is a flowering plant that has anti-inflammatory properties.

Some studies suggest that taking feverfew supplements in doses of 50150 mg per day may reduce headache frequency. However, other studies have failed to find a benefit .

Butterbur root comes from a perennial shrub native to Germany and, like feverfew, has anti-inflammatory effects.

Several studies have shown that taking butterbur extract in doses of 50150 mg reduces headache symptoms in both adults and children .

Feverfew is generally considered safe if taken in recommended amounts. However, butterbur should be treated with caution, as unpurified forms can cause liver damage, and the effects of its long-term use are unknown (

Foods containing them have been shown to trigger headaches in some people.

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