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Why Do Migraine Headaches Occur

What Are The Symptoms Of Cluster Headaches

What causes headaches? – Dan Kwartler

    Cluster headaches are headaches that come in groups separated by pain-free periods of months or years. A patient may experience a headache on a daily basis for weeks or months and then be pain-free for years. This type of headache affects men more frequently. They often begin in adolescence but can extend into middle age.

    • During the period in which the cluster headaches occur, pain typically occurs once or twice daily, but some patients may experience pain more than twice daily.
    • Each episode of pain lasts from 30 to 90 minutes.
    • Attacks tend to occur at about the same time every day and often awaken the patient at night from a sound sleep.
    • The pain typically is excruciating and located around or behind one eye.
    • Some patients describe the pain as feeling like a hot poker in the eye. The affected eye may become red, inflamed, and watery.
    • The nose on the affected side may become congested and runny.

    Unlike people with migraine headaches, those with cluster headaches tend to be restless. They often pace the floor and/or bang their heads against a wall. People with cluster headaches can be driven to desperate measures, including suicidal thoughts.

    Acephalgic Migraine Or Migraine Without Headache

    Acephalgic migraine is also known as migraine without headache, aura without headache, silent migraine, and visual migraine without headache. Acephalgic migraines occur when a person has an aura, but doesnt get a headache. This type of migraine isnt uncommon in people who start having migraines after age 40.

    Visual aura symptoms are most common. With this type of migraine, the aura may gradually occur with symptoms spreading over several minutes and move from one symptom to another. After visual symptoms, people may have numbness, speech problems, and then feel weak and unable to move a part of their body normally. Read on to get a better understanding of acephalgic or silent migraines.

    Also known as menstrual migraines and exogenous estrogen withdrawal headaches, hormonal migraines are linked with the female hormones, commonly estrogen. They include migraines during:

    • your period
    • pregnancy
    • perimenopause
    • the first few days after you start or stop taking medications that have estrogen in them, such as birth control pills or hormone therapy

    If youre using hormone therapy and have an increase in headaches, your doctor may talk with you about:

    • adjusting your dose
    • changing the type of hormones
    • stopping hormone therapy

    Are Migraine Headaches More Common In Women Than Men

    Yes. About three out of four people who have migraines are women. Migraines are most common in women between the ages of 20 and 45. At this time of life women often have more job, family, and social duties. Women tend to report more painful and longer lasting headaches and more symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting. All these factors make it hard for a woman to fulfill her roles at work and at home when migraine strikes.

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    What Commonly Triggers A Migraine

    People who get migraines may be able to identify triggers that seem to kick off the symptoms. Some possible triggers include the following:

    • Stress and other emotions
    • Biological and environmental conditions, such as hormonal shifts or exposure to light or smells
    • Fatigue and changes in one’s sleep pattern
    • Glaring or flickering lights

    What Are Primary Headaches

    Why Do Migraine Headaches Occur?

    Primary headaches include migraine, tension, and cluster headaches, as well as a variety of other less common types of headaches.

    • Tension headaches are the most common type of primary headache. Tension headaches occur more commonly among women than men. According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 20 people in the developed world suffer with a daily tension headache.
    • Migraine headaches are the second most common type of primary headache. Migraine headaches affect children as well as adults. Before puberty, boys and girls are affected equally by migraine headaches, but after puberty, more women than men are affected.
    • Cluster headaches are a rare type of primary headache. It more commonly affects men in their late 20s, though women and children can also suffer from this type of headache.

    Primary headaches can affect the quality of life. Some people have occasional headaches that resolve quickly while others are debilitating. While these headaches are not life-threatening, they may be associated with symptoms that can mimic strokes.

    Many patients equate severe headache with migraine, but the amount of pain does not determine the diagnosis of migraine. Read our Migraine Headache article for more information about the symptoms, causes, and treatment of migraines.

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    Common Causes Of Migraines

    Doctors arenĂ¢t totally sure what causes migraine headaches, but they think imbalances in certain brain chemicals may play a role.

    The trigeminal nerve in your head runs your eyes and mouth. It also helps you feel sensations in your face and is a major pathway for pain. Your levels of a chemical called serotonin may fall at the start of a migraine, and this nerve can release chemicals called neurotransmitters that travel to your brain and cause pain.

    The Phases Of Migraine


    Also known as preheadache or the premonitory phase, prodrome can mark the beginning of a migraine attack. This phase can last several hours or may even occur over several days.

    Most people with migraine will experience prodrome, but not necessarily before every migraine attack. If a person with migraine is experiencing prodrome, his or her care team can study their symptoms and patterns to guide a treatment plan that may lessen the severity of the oncoming headache. During this phase, taking medication, minimizing/avoiding other trigger factors and practicing mindfulness meditation, relaxation therapy or other biobehavioral techniques, can even prevent headache in some cases. Prodrome symptoms vary from person to person, but can include changes in mood, from feelings of depression or irritability to difficulty focusing. Other symptoms may include fatigue, sensitivity to light and sound, insomnia, nausea, constipation or diarrhea, and muscle stiffness, especially in the neck and shoulders. Symptoms that are especially unique to the prodrome phase of migraine include yawning, cravings for certain foods, and frequent urination.




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    Some Of These Lifestyle Changes Include:

    • Keeping a similar sleep pattern , but get enough sleep each night.
    • Trying to exercise, even walking, on a regular basis. This activity can be valuable following a stressful event, as it helps you gradually return to normal cortisol levels.
    • Eating regularly and staying as close as you can to your normal healthy diet.
    • Learning a new relaxation techniqueyoga or meditation, for instance.
    • Learning to play an instrument.
    • Seeking help from a cognitive therapist who can teach us to better manage the stress and negative thought patterns we can easily get into, given that we live with chronic illness.

    I recall my initial surprise in discovering that others suffered from let-down migraines, as I thought it was unusual to suffer migraine attacks after rather than before or during a difficult event or really happy one. I found real relief in learning, once again, that I was not aloneand neither are you.


    Bullock, Greg. Stress and Migraine Connection. Theraspecs. January 2018. Accessed 10 August 2021.

    Dumas, Paula. Migraine at Work: 8 Tips to End the Let-down Headache. Migraine Again. October, 19, 2020. . Accessed 9 August 2021.

    Enabling Blood Flow To The Brain

    What Causes Headaches?

    The cervical vertebrae contain openings called vertebral foramen. These passageways provide a place for the vertebral arteries that provide the brains blood and oxygen supply. These openings also make the cervical vertebrae unique. As a result, proper alignment of the cervical spine plays a key role in the brain getting the blood and oxygen it needs to function properly.

    Knowing these points about the function and design of the cervical vertebrae is an important factor in understanding the connection between the spine and migraines.

    to schedule a consultation today.

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    Weakness On One Side Of The Body

    When an arm goes limp, it can be a sign of a migraine.

    Some people experience muscle weakness on one side of the body before a migraine attack. This can also be a sign of a stroke, however, so consult a doctor to rule out any other causes.

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    Do Migraine Attacks Last Longer Or Happen More Frequently Than Cluster Headaches

    A migraine attack typically lasts between 4 and 72 hours, says Rajneesh. Thats longer than a cluster headache lasts, which is between 15 minutes and three hours.

    Most people with migraine have one or two migraine attacks per month, but some people have them much more frequently. About 1 percent of the population has chronic migraine, which is defined as having at least 15 migraine days per month, according to American Migraine Foundation.

    Cluster headaches come in bouts, or cluster periods. These periods last for weeks or months, according to the International Headache Society, and are separated by remissions lasting months or years.

    During a cluster period, the frequency of headaches ranges from one every other day to as many as eight per day.

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    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?

    What About Those Migraines That Set In After A Period Of Great Joy Though

    Migraine  Overview, causes, prevention and medication ...

    Why would we be hit so hard after the excitement and a wonderful experience? Actually, for the same reasons we are after stress and great anxiety in the above examples. The cortisol levels rise during these periods as well and, again, may trigger a very unexpected attack, just when you least expect it: Research has shown a five-fold increase in attacks during this time period. This has led some experts to suggest that let down or relaxation is a more prominent cause of attacks than stress itself .

    The let-down migraine actually has a number of behavioral changes during the stressful/excited period associated with it as well, all of which can be contributing factors to a degree:

    • Changes in sleep patterns
    • Changes in eating and drinking patterns
    • Changes in routine
    • Forgetting to take medications on time
    • Reduction in regular stress managementmeditation, yoga, quiet walks

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    What Else Can I Do To Prevent Migraines

    While there are no sure ways to keep from having migraine headaches, here are some things that may help:

    Eat regularly and do not skip meals.

    • Keep a regular sleep schedule.
    • Exercise regularly. Aerobic exercise can help reduce tension as well as keep your weight in check. Obesity can contribute to migraines.
    • Keep a migraine journal to help you learn what triggers your migraines and what treatments are most helpful.

    Light Noise Or Smells Trigger Or Worsen Pain

    In the throes of a migraine attack, the migraine sufferer tends to seek refuge in a dark, quiet place. Bright lights and loud noises can trigger a migraine or intensify the pain. The same is true of certain odors.

    “Once you’ve already got a migraine, smells can seem more intense and make it worse,” Dr. Calhoun says. “But a smell can also trigger a migraine in someone who didn’t have one before walked past the perfume counter.”

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    Treatment And Prevention Of Ocular And Visual Migraines

    As already noted, visual disturbances caused by ocular migraines and visual migraines typically go away within an hour.

    If you are performing tasks that require clear vision when an ocular migraine or visual migraine occurs, stop what you are doing and relax until it passes. If you’re driving, pull of the road, park your vehicle and wait for your vision to return to normal.

    As soon as possible, see your eye doctor, family physician or a neurologist for evaluation of your migraine episodes. Your doctor can let you know about the latest medicines for treating migraines, including those that may help prevent future attacks.

    It’s also a good idea to keep a journal of your diet and daily activities. Doing so can help you identify possible triggers of your ocular migraines or visual migraines .

    Many migraine attacks are stress-related. You might be able to reduce how often they occur by:

    • Avoiding common migraine triggers

    • Getting plenty of sleep

    • Trying stress-busters such as yoga and massage

    Migraines can be successfully managed so they are less frequent and debilitating. The first step is to see a doctor to discuss your symptoms including vision problems and discuss treatment and prevention options.

    What Is The Prognosis For People With Migraines

    Why Do We Get 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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    Gender A Risk Factor In Migraine And Cluster Headaches

    More women have migraine than men, says Diamond, and more men have cluster headaches than women.

    About 3 out of 4 people with migraine are women, according to the Migraine Research Foundation.

    Indeed, most pain conditions, including back pain, neck pain, migraine, and most headaches are more common in women than in men, according Rajneesh. We really dont understand why, he adds.

    Cluster headache is one of the rare exceptions where men are more affected than women. The ratio is pretty high its about 4 to 1, men to women, says Rajneesh.

    Best Options For Treating Migraine When You Have Gi Symptoms

    Paula: Lets say we have somebody who is dealing with a lot of nausea and vomiting, and theyre losing time from work and family. And because of this nausea and vomiting, they cant swallow their oral medication. What are their best treatment options?

    Dr. Starling: First, its not just that individuals that have significant nausea and vomiting are unable to sometimes keep their medication down, but even if they keep it down, it may actually not be working very well. Theyre unable to absorb that medication effectively. Or it may take too long, and so someone doesnt have benefit from their triptan medication for two hours or more when they should have had benefit within one hour.

    We need to treat the symptoms, but we also need to get the medications into the bloodstream more effectively. To treat the symptoms, there are a lot of anti-nausea medications that can be used, and some are actually effective not only for nausea but also for the head pain itself. We call these neuroleptic medications, and they include things like prochlorperazine, promethazine, and metoclopramide.

    In addition, the triptan medications, which are the gold standard for as-needed treatment of Migraine headaches, usually come in oral tablets, but those are useless if were throwing up or its not well-absorbed.

    Those are all different formulations that can more effectively get into the bloodstream and completely bypass the gastrointestinal tract.

    Paula: And these act more quickly than oral medications?

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    Migraine More Common Than Cluster Headache

    More people have likely heard of migraine than of cluster headaches because migraine is much more common. The National Headache Foundation reports;that more than 37 million Americans have migraine. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, migraine is the third most prevalent illness in the world.

    Cluster headaches, on the other hand, are rarer, affecting between an estimated 200,000 and one million Americans, according to Eileen Brewer, president of the patient advocacy group Clusterbusters, speaking to the American Migraine Foundation.

    What Are Some Ways I Can Prevent Migraine

    Why Do Cluster Headaches Happen at Night?

    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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