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What Brings On Migraine Headaches

Is Heat Good For A Migraine

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Heat and the summer months bring many migraine triggers, such as dehydration, bright sunlight, and allergies. For people sensitive to these triggers, hot weather and the summer season is a definite challenge. Knowing your triggers and being prepared with a migraine management toolkit can help.

Direct and targeted heat in the form of warm packs, on the other hand, can help lessen the pain of tension-type headaches. As always, experiment with new management strategies and track your response in your headache diary. Apply warmth to your neck and shoulders with:

  • A warm shower or bath
  • A heating pad on a low setting
  • A hot water bottle
  • A warm compress or towel
  • Instant hot packs

Dont go too hot, as this can trigger headaches rather than soothe them.

How Is Migraine Diagnosed

Theres no single test that can lead to a diagnosis of migraine. Rather, your doctor will take your medical history, as well as obtain your family history of migraine, and perform a physical and neurological exam. Your healthcare provider may order certain blood tests and imaging tests to rule out other causes of headache. Keep a detailed log of your symptoms to help with diagnosis.

The Main Reasons Why Light Can Cause Migraines

  • The brightness of the light
  • The flickering or pulsating of the light source
  • When the Kelvin color temperature is more blue
  • When the light source is high in contrast.

Brightness of the Light

Bright light creates a response from your eyes that can make migraines more intense. Some people have their worst reactions when exposed to sunlight which is the brightest light you can find.

The dimer the light, the less chances it will trigger a migraine. This is another reason why migraine sufferers go lay down in a dark room when they have a migraine attack.

Flickering or Pulsating Light

The subliminal and sometimes visible pulsating of various light sources such as fluorescent lights can trigger a migraine an even make you feel nauseas. Any light source that flickers or pulsates should be avoided.

Blue Kelvin Color Temperature

Lighting that is more blue-green or higher on the kelvin temperature scale will bring on migraines more so than lights that are more yellow or lower on the temperature scale.

High Contrast Light Sources

These lights are flashing more than flickering. This can be a TV screen, computer monitor, strobe lights, headlights or any other light source that produces this type of effect. This is a reason why migraine suffers often cannot even watch TV but do not mind just listening to it.

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What Is Migraine Symptoms Causes Diagnosis Treatment And Prevention

Migraine is a neurological disease characterized by repeated episodes of symptoms, called attacks, that usually include headache, often accompanied by nausea vomiting sensitivity to light, touch, smell, or sound dizziness visual disturbances and tingling or numbness in the face, hands, or feet.

Migraine attacks may come on suddenly without warning, or they may be preceded by certain known triggers, such as skipping a meal, being exposed to smoke or air pollution, or experiencing a change in hormone levels as part of the menstrual cycle. Most migraine attacks last from 4 to 72 hours, although effective treatment can shorten them to a matter of hours. On the other hand, some migraine attacks can last even longer than 72 hours.

Having migraine can be disabling and can lead to missing days of school or work, being less productive at school or work, being unable to perform household responsibilities, and missing out on family, social, and leisure activities.

An estimated 1 billion people worldwide, and 39 million Americans, have migraine.

While a variety of triggers can set off migraine attacks, they dont directly cause the attacks or the underlying disease.

Changes In Or An Irregular Sleep Schedule

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The connection between migraine and sleep is undeniable. Sleep renews and repairs all parts of the bodyincluding the brainso it makes sense that when your sleep schedule becomes irregular, you are more prone to migraine attacks. Something else to note when it comes to sleep: Nearly half of all migraine attacks occur between 4:00am and 9:00am, putting people at a greater risk for developing a sleep disorder.

How to cope: Try to go to bed at the same time every night, and aim to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep. Eliminate TV, texting, reading, and listening to music while in bed, and try your best not to nap during the day. This article from the AMF Resource Library has great information and tips on how to make a sleep plan that works with your lifestyle.

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Do You Have Migraines

A migraine most often feels like a headache. But migraines are different from other headaches in a number of ways. For one thing, they often come with other symptoms, some of which can feel scary. They also tend to follow a pattern that is predictable.

Common symptoms of migraine are:

  • Throbbing pain on one side of the head

  • Nausea, vomiting, or both

  • A visual experience that looks like sparkling lights

  • Sensitivity to bright lights, sounds, and smells

Its important to talk to your healthcare provider if you think you have migraines. The symptoms that come with migraines can be similar to the symptoms of a stroke or other serious condition.

If youve ever had a migraine, or if you know someone who has, you might have wondered what got it started in the first place. You probably also want to know if theres anything you can do to stop triggering one in the future. If youre interested in finding out more about what makes migraines happen, this guide is for you.

Bright Lights And Loud Sounds

Some people report that bright, flickering, or pulsating lights, or loud sounds, may serve as a migraine trigger.

A small study in European Neurology found that even brief exposure to sunlight may trigger migraine. Study participants reported getting some relief by:

  • wearing a hat
  • avoiding sunny places
  • getting more sleep

However, in a letter to the editor regarding that study, one neurologist noted that sunlight may not be a primary trigger for migraines. He stated that sunlight only triggered his own migraines if hed drunk wine the previous night.

He also mentioned that sunlight triggered migraines if he was already sleep deprived, stressed, dehydrated, or experiencing low blood sugar due to skipping a meal. His conclusion was that bright light may be a sort of secondary trigger.

People whose migraine attacks appear to be triggered by bright light should consider whether these other factors may also be triggers for them.

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When Should You Call A Doctor For Migraines

  • A change in frequency, severity, or features of the migraine commonly experienced
  • A new, progressive headache that lasts for days
  • Constant migraine symptoms that last more than 72 hours
  • A headache brought on by coughing, sneezing, bearing down, straining while on the toilet, or other physical straining
  • Significant unintentional loss of body weight
  • Weakness or paralysis that lasts after the headache

Go to a hospital emergency department if you have any of these symptoms and signs:

  • Having “the worst headache ever,” especially if the headache had a sudden onset

    Migraine Causes

    The exact cause of migraine headaches is not clearly understood, though experts believe they may be caused by a combination of the expansion of blood vessels and the release of certain chemicals, which causes inflammation and pain.

    • The chemicalsdopamine and serotonin are among those involved in migraines. These chemicals are found normally in the brain and can cause blood vessels to act abnormally if they are present in abnormal amounts or if the blood vessels are unusually sensitive to them.
    • Current research suggests that overactive nerve cells triggering the trigeminal nerve can lead to an imbalance in certain neurotransmitters in the brain, causing a migraine headache. These neurotransmitters include serotonin and calcitonin gene-related peptide .

    Migraine Triggers

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    What Are Some Ways I Can Prevent Migraine

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    The best way to prevent migraine is to find out what triggers your attacks and avoid or limit these triggers. Since migraine headaches are more common during times of stress, finding healthy ways to cut down on and cope with stress might help. Talk with your doctor about starting a fitness program or taking a class to learn relaxation skills.

    Talk with your doctor if you need to take your pain-relief medicine more than twice a week. Doing so can lead to rebound headaches. If your doctor has prescribed medicine for you to help prevent migraine, take them exactly as prescribed. Ask what you should do if you miss a dose and how long you should take the medicine. Talk with your doctor if the amount of medicine you are prescribed is not helping your headaches.

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    Research Data On Race And Ethnicity

    Migraine can be a debilitating condition that is underdiagnosed and challenging to treat. This can be seen especially in BIPOC populations. People of Color are less likely to receive the diagnosis of migraine and the treatment than white people.

    In fact, only 47% of African Americans have an official migraine diagnosis, compared with 70% of white people in the country. And other research found that Latino people are 50% less likely to receive a formal migraine diagnosis than white people. These disparities can impact treatment and therapies.

    While these figures could lead to the conclusion that white people experience more migraine episodes than other groups, looking at the average prevalence of severe headache or migraine from 2005 to 2012 in the U.S. found that the prevalence rates of episodes across all groups were similar:

    • 17.7% of Native American people
    • 15.5% of white people
    • 14.45% of Black people
    • 9.2% of Asian people

    Furthermore, females in all groups were approximately twice as likely to experience migraine episodes than males.

    Overall, studies that discuss migraine and use racial and ethnic differences for clarity often do not consider contributing factors. Further research is warranted, and this should consider behavioral, environmental, genetic, and socioeconomic factors, as well as access to healthcare.

    Sit In A Cool Room With The Lights Off Or Using A Narrow

    If you feel the early signs of a heat-related headache, go to a quiet spot where you can sit or lie down and relax. Turn the lights off, pull the shades, and take a nap or meditate if you have the time. If you are at work or are unable to sleep, try using a narrow-band green light such as the portable Allay Lamp, to continue your work or read. Compared to everyday light, this unique band has been shown to create smaller electrical signals that help calm your brain – even during a migraine.

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    Why Am I Waking Up With A Migraine

    Theres a close relationship between sleep and migraines. Disruptions in your natural sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm, can trigger attacks, and, in turn, migraines can interrupt your sleep patterns. Its little wonder that those with sleep disorders are more likely to experience this condition.

    Disruptions in sleep due to several disorders can be at the root of your morning migraine, including:

    • Insomnia: This disorder is characterized by an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. This is because both insomnia and migraine may be due to the activity of some of the same brain regions and neurotransmitters.
    • Obstructive sleep apnea:Interrupted breathing while youre asleep characterizes this condition. It can cause snoring, cold sweats, sudden waking, and excessive nighttime urination.
    • Teeth grinding:If you grind your teeth at night, a condition called bruxism, muscular pain around the temporomandibular jointthe hinge that connects your jaw to the skullcan cause headaches to flare up.

    Though they can happen at any time of day, migraines most commonly arise in the morning hours, between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. Whats behind your morning migraine attack? Several factors may be at play.

    Migraine Vs Sinus Headache

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    It isnt always easy to tell the difference between a migraine and a headache, much less a sinus headache, but each condition does have its own set of specific symptoms. While some are shared, others are very distinct to the condition. This creates a strong case for keeping a migraine diary and documenting the details of and surrounding your headaches.

    According to Dr. Ailani, the symptoms of migraine and sinus headache are similar because of the region of the brain that is activated during an attack:

    Migraine can also have associated symptoms, symptoms that come WITH the headache pain that can be confused for a sinus or allergy problem. You can have a runny nose, watery eyes, your eyes can turn red. These symptoms, called autonomic symptoms, come on because of the area in the brain, the hypothalamus, that gets turned on during migraine.

    Following this section are common symptoms for migraines as well as sinus migraine, sinus headaches and sinusitis. As you can see, many of them are identical or nearly identical. Its no wonder that patients struggle to describe their head pain and doctors struggle to diagnose it. The problem is, without a proper diagnosis you cant get proper treatment. If you are diagnosed with sinus headaches but you actually have migraines, it could delay your migraine treatment for years.

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    Signs And Symptoms Of Migraine

    Symptoms of migraine vary depending on the type of migraine and on the person. In general, though, migraine attacks are very painful and can interfere with your daily life.

    The most common symptom of migraine is head pain often characterized as an intense throbbing sensation, usually on one side of the head but sometimes on both sides of the head, and sometimes starting on one side of the head and moving to the other side.

    However, migraine attacks have four stages, with somewhat different symptoms at each stage:

    Prodrome, or Warning, Stage

    Aura Stage Up to a third of people experience the aura phase, which can last five minutes to an hour and increase in intensity over time. Aura may involve seeing bright spots or patterns of light, and numbness or tingling in various areas of the body but not paralysis.

    Headache Phase Pain comes with the headache phase, which can last several hours and up to three days. The throbbing pain may start on one side of the head and move to include both sides. It may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting as well as blurred vision and sensitivity to certain stimuli such as light and noise. People typically seek out a quiet, dark room to rest or sleep during this phase of a migraine attack.

    Postdrome, or Hangover, Stage In the last phase of a migraine attack, when the headache pain has eased, fatigue and body aches may occur. You may have trouble concentrating and may still be hypersensitive to certain stimuli.

    How To Identify Triggers

    If you have migraine, almost anything can be a trigger. This means it can be very difficult to identify your potential triggers. It may also be a combination of a few things that seems to lead to a migraine attack. And a trigger may not lead to a migraine attack every time, which can confuse things even more.

    Here is an example of how combinations of triggers can work: A young woman has identified that her migraine attacks appear to be triggered when she skips meals, is feeling stressed and when she is about to have her period. If she comes home late from a very stressful day at work, her period is just about to start, and she goes straight to bed without eating a proper meal, she will almost certainly have a migraine attack. However, if she skips dinner another time, when the other triggers did not happen, she will probably not have migraine attack.

    Many people find that they sometimes go a long time without having a migraine attack. During this time, your body may seem to be less sensitive to triggers and you may find that even the combination of your usual triggers doesnt result in a migraine attack.

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    How Is Migraine Aura Diagnosed

    To rule out more serious conditions, such as a transient ischemic attack or mini stroke, your healthcare provider will perform a physical examination. They may also run certain tests to confirm your diagnosis. These tests may include:

    • An eye exam. This test helps rule out any eye conditions that could be causing aura symptoms.
    • A CT scan of your head. This scan takes detailed images of your brain.
    • Magnetic resonance imaging . This test uses magnets and radio waves to capture images of your tissues, organs and structures inside of your body.

    Can A Sinus Headache Cause A Migraine

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    A common misconception is that sinusitis triggers migraines , but that isnt likely to happen. Sinusitis originates in a different region of the body than migraine and they are not necessarily connected However, the two conditions do share the same nerves that can be stimulated, and they do both produce many of the same chemicals in the body during an attack. There are certain signs that can help distinguish between the two and knowing this can help facilitate appropriate treatment of the condition that is present.

    Dr. Ailani explains how easy it can be to mistake a migraine for a sinus headache:

    With a sinus infection, you will often have a fever, bright colored mucus from the nose in large amounts, and pain that is worse when you lay down . You may notice the pain is worse in the morning after sleeping for several hours. Occasionally, someone may have a chronic sinus infection, something that has been going on for several months. In this case, a person may not have any symptoms, and may not have a headache either.

    If you have a severe headache with sinus type symptoms and also have light or sound sensitivity, upset stomach, lack of appetite, and no fever, and you notice the pain resolves in 4-36 hours- this may be a migraine. If you notice the pain improves when laying in a dark, quiet room, or when taking over the counter pain medication, this again goes along with migraine.

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