The headache called Migraine
In the previous article we discussed the different types of headache and how to identify them.
Migraine headache is one of the most common of the headaches, usually moderate but be severe in some cases. A number of things can trigger migraine, you may need to pay close attention to pick out what triggers your own. Knowing the triggers can help you to take steps to avoid recurrent episodes of the headache.
Below is a list of common potential triggers of Migraine you be aware of.
Consumption of alcoholic drinks (such as red wine, beer) and highly caffeinated beverages can trigger migraine.
Caffeine has pronounced effects on the brain. Withdrawal from caffeine after a prolong exposure has been found to cause headache which can last for days.
Excessive alcohol consumption often lead to hang over which may subsequently cause headache.
A number of patients have reported onset of migraine with certain food intake. Some examples of such foods include chocolate, cheese, cured meat like sausage, hot dogs, and ham. Phenylethylamine a substance contained in chocolate has capacity to alter brain blood flow or trigger release of certain chemicals leading to migraine. Caffeine content of chocolate also make it a potential trigger.
Preservatives used in cured meat and food generally can potentially trigger migraine. Nitrites and Monosodium glutamate (MSG) are common examples of such preservatives.
MSG has been found to cause contraction of blood vessels, stimulate certain receptors in the central nervous system or lead to the release of nitric oxide. All these effects can potentially trigger recurrent episodes.
3. Skipping meals
In a bid to lose weight, many people skip their meals. Going for long without food is risky especially if you discover you are prone to migraine attack.
Studies have shown that almost half of people with migraines have attacks if they fast.
Though not scientifically proven, it is believed that the body produces stress hormones, which activate chemicals in the brain responsible for migraines.
The more stressed you are, the more the likelihood of coming down with migraine headaches.
Release of stress hormones in the body is known to activate chemicals in the brain which have capacity to trigger migraines.
Habits such as clenching your jaws and/or grind your teeth when stressed also have capacity to cause headaches on their own.
5. Sleep deprivation
Sleep deprivation leaves your body in a state of restlessness and anxiety. Insomnia (lack of sleep) is a proven trigger of headaches including migraines.
6. Hormonal changes
Fluctuating estrogen levels is a potent trigger. Many women have onset of migraine at menarche, some during menstruation and after menopause.
Oral contraceptive and other hormonal therapy may also trigger or worsen the symptoms.
7. Weather changes
Some migraine sufferers are very sensitive to change in weather. Weather changes may cause imbalances in brain chemicals, including serotonin, which can prompt a migraine. Extreme temperatures, bright sunlight, dry air, high humidity etc are potential weather-related triggers
Other potential stimuli include flashing light, strong odor, very loud noise, reading for long hours (book/laptop), etc.
- The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy