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What Causes Migraines In Adults

How Prevalent Are Migraines

Migraines are about three times more common in women than men, and may affect more than 12 percent of the U.S. adult population. Migraines often run in families, and can start as early as elementary school but most often in early adulthood. They often fade away later in life, but can strike at any time. The most common cause of recurring, disabling headache pain, migraines are also the most common underlying cause of disabling chronic, daily headache pain. While migraines are the No. 1 reason that patients see a neurologist, most cases are handled by primary care physicians.

Things that can make the headaches more likely to occur include:

  • Alcohol

Other Types Of Migraine In Adults

Migraine without aura is the most prevalent form of the headache disorder, but it is not the only one. Much like young children, vestibular migraine remains the most prominent cause of recurring vertigo in adults and may account for approximately 10% of all migraine diagnoses.5Typical aura without headache is another rare subtype brought on in the adult years, although it only affects less than 3 percent of all sufferers. Hemiplegic migraine also can be identified in a small percentage of adults, although it is believed to develop more frequently in childhood.

Dissection Of Carotid Or Vertebral Arteries

The carotid and vertebral arteries are important vessels that transport oxygen-rich blood through the neck to the brain.

The word dissection describes a sudden tear in the artery wall that allows blood flow to separate the wall layers. Blood flow into this false channel can grow to compress the true artery channel, resulting in a total artery blockage, or occlusion .

Dissection may develop without an apparent cause or secondary to trauma .

The headache associated with a dissection of the carotid or vertebral arteries often radiates to the neck and face. The pain may be constant, instantaneous, gradual, throbbing, or sharp.

Pieces of the clotted blood can break off and block smaller arteries in the brain resulting in a stroke. Consequently, the patient may experience weakness on one-side of the body, visual disturbance, facial droop, and difficulty with speech.

What Are The Symptoms Of Migraine

People with migraines have throbbing, pulsating head pain on one side or both sides of their head. Children are more likely to have headaches on both sides; older teens and adults are more likely to have headaches on one side of the head. The pain usually lasts from 4-72 hours. However, before the headache begins, many people experience an aura ..

Other symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting with headache
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • Sensitivity to normal touch during migraine
  • Aura before or during the headache; Some people see spots or colors, wavy lights, have unusual vision changes, or numbness or tingling in the fingers of one hand, lips, tongue, or lower face before or during a migraine headache. About one in four people who get migraines get auras before or during the headache. If you have symptoms of an aura and it is a new experience, talk with your health care provider.

Migraine Canand Often Doesget Worse In Adults


It is also during these years that we see the worsening of migraine, according to research. In fact, the number of “headache days” has been shown to increase year after year, reaching its peak in late adult life. This coincides with the transformation of episodic to chronic migraine for many adults as represented by an increase in the number of migraine attacks.2 Although it is unclear exactly why this occurs, risk factors include: medication overuse; high body mass; and the presence of emotional symptoms like depression.

What Is An Aura

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.

Transformed Migraine/medication Overuse Headache

In some patients, migraine progresses to chronic migraine. Acute overuse of symptomatic medication is considered one of the most important risk factors for migraine progression. Medication overuse headache can occur with any analgesic, including acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin. In addition, Bigal and Lipton identified the following associations of medication with progression to chronic migraine :

  • Opiates – Critical dose of exposure is around 8 days per month; the effect is more pronounced in men

  • Barbiturates – Critical dose of exposure is around 5 days per month; the effect is more pronounced in women

  • Triptans – Migraine progression is seen only in patients with high frequency of migraine at baseline

In the study, the effect of anti-inflammatory medications varied with headache frequency. These agents were protective in patients with fewer than 10 days of headache at baseline but induced migraine progression in patients with a high frequency of headaches at baseline.

Get The Help Of Reliable Chiropractors In Plymouth Mn

Why does upper cervical chiropractic have such a great effect on vertigo?

Upper cervical chiropractic takes care of the uppermost vertebrae of the spine , which house the brainstem and spinal cord. A hard blow to the head or neck can make these two bones to shift out of position, putting pressure on the nerves within. 

As a result, the brainstem may malfunction and send incorrect signals. Furthermore, the brain may get confused about the messages it receives from the body, leading to the sensation of vertigo. 

Misalignments can stem from anything from a minor car crash to a serious sports accident. Even overextending the neck muscles can result in a misalignment. 

Here at Living Well Chiropractic in Plymouth, Minnesota, we tap into upper cervical chiropractic to bring back the bones of the neck into their proper alignment. We use advanced imaging to calculate the exact positions where to apply our gentle adjustments in the upper cervical spine. This lets the bones naturally return into place.

To schedule a consultation with Dr. Leach, call our Plymouth office at . You can also click the button below.

If you are outside of the local area you can find an Upper Cervical Doctor near you at

What Causes Sudden Vertigo Or Dizziness In Adults

It concerns upper cervical chiropractors in Plymouth MN how many people have vertigo, yet only a few know how to identify it distinctly. 

Before anything else, lets define what vertigo is. is the false sense of motion. It can be a feeling similar to when you spin in circles and suddenly stops, and you experience your environment as if spinning. 

People often mistake vertigo as dizziness. However, dizziness is only momentary lightheadedness or loss of balance. 

When Should I Seek Help For My Headaches

Sometimes, headache can signal a more serious problem. You should talk to your doctor about your headaches if:

  • You have several headaches per month and each lasts for several hours or days
  • Your headaches disrupt your home, work, or school life
  • You have nausea, vomiting, vision, or other sensory problems
  • You have pain around the eye or ear
  • You have a severe headache with a stiff neck
  • You have a headache with confusion or loss of alertness
  • You have a headache with convulsions
  • You have a headache after a blow to the head
  • You used to be headache-free, but now have headaches a lot

Who Gets Migraines What Are The Risk Factors

Its difficult to predict who may get a migraine and who may not, but there are risk factors that may make you more vulnerable. These risk factors include:

  • Genetics: Up to 80% of people who get migraine headaches have a first-degree relative with the disease.
  • Gender. Migraine headaches happen to women more than men, especially women between the ages of 15 and 55. Its likely more common in women because of the influence of .
  • Stress level. You may get migraines more often if youre high-stress. Stress can trigger a migraine.
  • Smoking.

Medications For Acute And Chronic Migraines

The treatment of an acute migraine headache may vary from over-the-counter medicines, like , , sodium to prescription medications.


  • Triptans , may be extremely effective in treating migraines and may be prescribed to help patients treat their migraines at home. A combination of naproxen and sumatriptan is now available. Additionally, sumatriptan is now available as a patch, which delivers the medication though the skin.
  • Not every patient can take these medications, and there are specific limitations regarding how often these medications can be used.

Other migraine treatments

What Triggers Headaches And Migraines

Migraine: Causes, treatment, types, and symptoms

Common triggers of tension headaches or migraines include:

  • Alcohol use.

Cluster headaches

Cluster headaches are the most severe type of primary headache. Cluster headaches come in a group or cluster, usually in the spring or fall. They occur one to eight times per day during a cluster period, which may last two weeks to three months. The headaches may disappear completely for months or years, only to recur later. The pain of a cluster headache is:

  • Intense with a burning or stabbing sensation.
  • Located behind one of your eyes or in the eye region, without changing sides.
  • Throbbing or constant.

New daily persistent headaches

New daily persistent headaches come on suddenly and last for more than three months. They typically occur in people who werent having frequent headaches before. The pain of NDPH is:

  • Constant and persistent without easing up.
  • Located on both sides of the head.
  • Not responsive to medications.

Sinus headaches

Sinus headaches are the result of a sinus infection, which causes congestion and inflammation in the sinuses . People, and even healthcare providers, often mistake migraines for sinus headaches. Symptoms of sinus headaches include:

  • Bad taste in mouth.
  • Pain that gets worse with sudden head movement or straining.
  • Mucus discharge .

Medication overuse headaches

  • Headaches becoming more frequent.
  • More days with headaches than without.
  • Pain thats worse in the morning.

Headaches in children

Blood Clots And Vascular Disease

Blood clots that form in or near the brain called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, or CVST, can also cause chronic headaches. These blood clots can cause increased intracranial pressure which in turn causes a headache that is constant and gets progressively worse as the pressure in the skull rises.  

Other vascular diseases such as giant cell arteritis and severe arterial hypertension can also cause chronic headaches. But with vascular disease, the headaches typically get gradually and progressively worse. In some cases, however, people can develop a sudden excruciating headache called a thunderclap headache.  


Living With Constant Headaches

For most of us, an occasional headache is nothing more than a temporary speed bump in the course of a busy day. Even so, most men can ease the problem with simple lifestyle measures and nonprescription medications. Relaxation techniques, biofeedback, yoga, and acupuncture may also help. But for some of us, headaches are a big problem. Learn to recognize warning signs that call for prompt medical care. Work with your doctor to develop a program to prevent and treat migraines and other serious headaches. And don’t fall into the trap of overusing medications; for some gents, rebound headaches are the biggest pain of all.

Who Is At Risk For Migraines

About 12% of Americans get migraines. They can affect anyone, but you are more likely to have them if you

  • Are a woman. Women are three times more likely than men to get migraines.
  • Have a family history of migraines. Most people with migraines have family members who have migraines.
  • Have other medical conditions, such as , , bipolar disorder, sleep disorders, and .

When Should I Seek Immediate Help Or Contact My Healthcare Provider

  • You are experiencing the worst headache of my life.
  • You are having neurologic symptoms that youve never had before, including speaking difficulty, balance problems, vision problems, mental confusion, seizures or numbing/tingling sensations.
  • Your headache comes on suddenly.
  • You have a headache after experiencing a head injury.

Schedule a visit with your healthcare provider if:

  • The number or severity of your headaches increase or your headache pattern changes.
  • Your medications no longer seem to be working or youre experiencing new or different side effects.

Common Symptoms Of A Migraine

The main symptom of a migraine is usually an intense headache on 1 side of the head.

The pain is usually a moderate or severe throbbing sensation that gets worse when you move and prevents you carrying out normal activities.

In some cases, the pain can occur on both sides of your head and may affect your face or neck.

What Causes A Migraine

The cause of migraine headaches is complicated and not fully understood. When you have a headache its because specific nerves in your blood vessels send pain signals to your brain. This releases inflammatory substances into the nerves and blood vessels of your head. Its unclear why your nerves do that.

You Have A Chronic Disease

Headache is a common side effect of many chronic health conditions like , lupus, and . However, constant headaches would typically accompany other symptoms. For instance, lupus features headaches alongside symptoms like fatigue, joint pain, and skin lesions that get worse when exposed to the sun, according to Mayo Clinic.

Fix it: If you have chronic headaches, it’s always worth talking to your doctor if anything feels off with your body to figure out if an underlying condition could be causing your issues. Even if youre unsure and think it may be something minor, dont delay seeking medical attention. Be your own health advocate.

What Are The Stages Of A Migraine

Abdominal Migraines: Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

The Migraine Research Foundation says that migraine is a neurological disease that affects 39 million people in the U.S. , which often begin in childhood, adolescence or early adulthood, can progress through four stages: , , attack and post-drome. Not everyone who has migraines goes through all stages.

Male Migraine Sufferers Are At Risk Of Heart Attack

Middle-aged male migraine patients have a 42 percent higher risk of having a heart attack than non-migraine patients, as well as an increased risk of aneurysms a bulge in a blood vessel caused by a weakness in the blood vessel wall.

These can develop in any blood vessel in the body, but the two most common places are the artery that transports blood away from the heart to the rest of the body, and the brain. Men who suffer from migraines are also more likely to develop and high blood pressure.

What If Treatment Doesnt Work

There are many different ways to address headaches. When you start a treatment program, keep track of your results. A headache log can help you measure progress.

Ask yourself:

  • Are my headaches less frequent?
  • Are they less severe?
  • Do they go away faster?

If you dont notice an improvement, talk to your doctor at the next follow-up exam. You may need to try something new.

How Are Headaches Treated

One of the most crucial aspect of treating headaches is figuring out your triggers. Learning what those are typically by keeping a headache log can reduce the number of headaches you have.

Once you know your triggers, your healthcare provider can tailor treatment to you. For example, you may get headaches when youre tense or worried. Counseling and stress management techniques can help you handle this trigger better. By lowering your stress level, you can avoid stress-induced headaches.

Not every headache requires medication. A range of treatments is available. Depending on your headache type, frequency and cause, treatment options include:

Stress management

Stress management teaches you ways to cope with stressful situations. Relaxation techniques are helpful in managing stress. You use deep breathing, muscle relaxation, mental images and music to ease your tension.


Biofeedback teaches you to recognize when tension is building in your body. You learn how your body responds to stressful situations and ways to settle it down. During , sensors are connected to your body. They monitor your involuntary physical responses to headaches, which include increases in:

  • Breathing rate.
  • Brain activity.


Occasional tension headaches usually respond well to over-the-counter pain relievers. But be aware that using these medications too often can lead to a long-term daily headache.

Diagnosing Migraine In Adults

Migraines are debilitating, recurrent  that cause moderate to severe throbbing pain. The pain may be on one or both sides of the head.

Most people experience headache pain every now and then. This pain can typically be relieved using over-the-counter medication. But if your headaches become severe, NYU Langone doctors can provide you with the best and most effective treatment plan.

Migraines can be chronic, meaning they occur 15 or more days per month over a 3-month time span. Or, they may be episodic, meaning they occur fewer than 15 days per month.

Migraine pain may intensify with movement or physical activity. Untreated, a migraine attack duration can range from four hours to days.

People who experience migraines tend to have recurring attacks that can be triggered by a variety of factors, such as anxiety, stress, hormonal changes, bright or flashing lights, and certain foods or drinks.

Visual or sensory symptoms often accompany migraines, causing sensitivity to light and sound as well as nausea or vomiting. People may also experience trouble speaking, dizziness, numbness, confusion, or other stroke-like symptoms during a migraine.

Stress Anxiety And Depression

The most common trigger of chronic headaches is stress, and stress can come from just about anything including: 

  • Major life changes such as a move, new job, marriage, or death in the family 
  • Deadlines at work, problems with the boss or a coworker, or loss of a promotion 
  • Unexpected car repair  
  • Driving to and from work 
  • Arguing with a spouse or significant other 
  • Difficulty with children 

Chronic stress can lead to other chronic conditions such as anxiety or depression, both of which can cause chronic daily headaches. Chronic stress can also cause tension in the muscles of the neck which can cause tension-type headaches. 

How Is Abdominal Migraine Similar To A Migraine

Abdominal migraine and migraine share similar triggers, such as stress, skipping meals, exposure to bright light, poor sleep, and foods containing chocolate, caffeine, and monosodium glutamate . Because there are so few studies on medications used to treat abdominal migraine, patients with the condition are often treated with medications shown to be effective on a migraine. 

Who Is At Risk For Abdominal Migraine

Abdominal migraines mostly affect children, with the first episode occurring between 3 and 10 years old. Most children seem to outgrow the condition, though abdominal migraines in adulthood are just starting to be studied. A child with a family or personal history of migraine headache has an increased chance of developing abdominal migraine. 

When To Worry About A Headache

Silent migraine: Symptoms, causes, treatment, prevention

You can take care of many types of headaches by yourself, and your doctor can give you medication to control most of the tougher headaches. But some headaches call for prompt medical care. Here are some warning signs for when you should worry about headaches:

  • Headaches that first develop after age 50
  • A major change in the pattern of your headaches
  • An unusually severe headache
  • Head pain that increases with coughing or movement
  • Headaches that get steadily worse
  • Changes in personality or mental function
  • Headaches that are accompanied by fever, stiff neck, confusion, decreased alertness or memory, or neurological symptoms such as visual disturbances, slurred speech, weakness, numbness, or seizures
  • Headaches that are accompanied by a painful red eye
  • Headaches that are accompanied by pain and tenderness near the temples
  • Headaches after a blow to the head
  • Headaches that prevent normal daily activities
  • Headaches that come on abruptly, especially if they wake you up
  • Headaches in patients with cancer or impaired immune systems

Can Migraines Be Prevented Or Avoided

Medicine to prevent migraines may be helpful if your headaches happen more than 2 times a month. You may want to consider this medicine if your headaches make it hard for you to work and function. These medicines are taken every day, whether you have a headache or not.

Preventive medications for migraines can include prescription drugs often used to treat other ailments. Anti-seizure medicines, antidepressants, medicines to lower blood pressure, and even Botox injections are some of the preventive medications your doctor may prescribe. Calcitonin gene-related peptide inhibitors can also help prevent migraines. They do so by blocking a gene-related peptide in your sensory nerves. This peptide is known to increase during a migraine attack, so blocking it can help prevent migraines.

There are also a number of non-medical treatments designed to help minimize migraine pain and frequency. One is an electrical stimulation device, which has been approved by the FDA. It is a headband that you wear once a day for 20 minutes to stimulate the nerve linked to migraines. Another non-medical treatment is counseling aimed at helping you feel in more control of your migraines. This counseling works best when paired with medical prevention of migraines, as well.

How Are Migraines Diagnosed

To diagnose a migraine, your healthcare provider will get a thorough medical history, not just your history of headaches but your familys, too. Also, they’ll want to establish a history of your migraine-related symptoms, likely asking you to:

  • Describe your headache symptoms. How severe are they?
  • Remember when you get them. During your period, for example?
  • Describe the type and location of your pain. Is the pain pounding? Pulsing? Throbbing?
  • Remember if anything makes your headache better or worse.
  • Tell how often you get migraine headaches.
  • Talk about the activities, foods, stressors or the situations that may have brought on the migraine.
  • Discuss what medications you take to relieve the pain and how often you take them.
  • Tell how you felt before, during and after the headache.
  • Remember if anyone in your family gets migraine headaches.

Your healthcare provider may also order blood tests and imaging tests to make sure there are no other causes for your headache. An may be ordered to rule out seizures.

Social And Economic Burden Of Headache

Headache disorders are a public-health concern given the associated disability and financial costs to society. As headache disorders are most troublesome in the productive years , estimates of their financial cost to society principally from lost working hours and reduced productivity are massive. In the United Kingdom, for example, some 25 million working- or school-days are lost every year because of migraine alone; this financial cost may be matched by TTH and MOH combined. Headache is high among causes of consulting medical practitioners: one-third of all neurological consultations were for headache, in one survey.

Yet, many of those troubled by headache do not receive effective care. For example, in the United States of America and the United Kingdom, only half of those identified with migraine had seen a doctor for headache-related reasons in the previous 12 months, and only two-thirds had been correctly diagnosed. Most were solely reliant on over-the-counter medications.

Migraine And Other Vascular Disease

People who suffer from migraine headaches are more likely to also have cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease . Reliable evidence comes from the Women’s Health Study, which found that migraine with aura raised the risk of myocardial infarction by 91% and ischemic stroke by 108% and that migraine without aura raised both risks by approximately 25%. Migraines during pregnancy are also linked to stroke and vascular diseases.  A 2017 analysis of the Women’s Health Study found that women who experience migraine headaches, particularly migraine without aura, may be at increased risk for hypertension. Compared with women without a history of migraine, those who experienced migraine with aura had about a 9% increased risk for hypertension while those who experienced migraine without aura had about a 21% increased risk.

Migraine with aura for women in midlife has a statistically significant association with late-life vascular disease in the cerebellum. This association is not seen in migraine without aura.


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