What is a Migraine?

By: | Tags: , | Comments: 0 | July 7th, 2017

“You’re giving me a headache!”. Sometimes we find ourselves joking about headaches, but it you have ever experienced a migraine, its no joking matter. The sensitivity to noise, bright lights and nausea can be debilitating. So what exactly is a Migraine? How is it different from a headache? What causes some people to get migraines, and how you can avoid getting them? These are all great questions that we will discuss as part of our wellness series.

Migraine vs. Headache

According to the Migraine Research Foundation “a migraine is not just a bad headache. It’s an extremely incapacitating collection of neurological symptoms that usually includes a severe throbbing recurring pain on one side of the head. However, in 1/3 of migraine attacks, both sides are affected. Attacks last between 4 and 72 hours and are often accompanied by one or more of the following disabling symptoms: visual disturbances, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, extreme sensitivity to sound, light, touch and smell, and tingling or numbness in the extremities or face. Of course, everyone is different, and symptoms vary by person and sometimes by attack.”

Migraine Triggers or Causes

Every person is different and virtually every person that gets migraines could actually have different triggers. Lets look at a few different ones.
  • Lifestyle Triggers: sometimes its changes in our everyday life. For instance, sleep patterns, fasting, skipping meals, dehydration, alcohol, over-exertion, exercise, stress could all be causes.
  • Environmental Triggers: For others it could be strong smells, bright or flickering lights, smoke/pollution, altitude, air pressure (as in airplane travel), motion sickness (as in a car, train, and boat travel).
  • Weather-related Triggers: One trigger that seems more people are noting include weather related events. Humidity (both high and low), sudden or big changes in temperature, changes in barometric pressure even bright sunlight without sunglasses.
  • Hormonal Triggers: Some might recognize a trigger when there is changes in hormone levels, pregnancy, menstruation, menopause, hormone replacement therapy, oral contraceptives.
  • Although the scientific evidence linking migraine to specific foods is lacking, some have been able to pinpoint foods and additives common triggers: artificial sweeteners, MSG (a flavor enhancer in many processed foods), nitrates (cured meats), and tyramines (fermented foods, aged cheeses, freshly baked yeast bread and cake), alcohol (especially red wine and beer), caffeine.

Remember that you should always try to have a well balanced diet, and a good sleep routine. Of course if you find yourself getting severe headaches, and you are concerned, please give your doctor a call and set up an appointment to see what options are available to help you manage your migraine.

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