What Causes Migraine Headaches?

By: Jeff Wilson

A migraine is a severe headache that is recurring. You may experience migraines monthly or once or twice a year. Migraines can be accompanied by extreme sensitivity to lights and sounds, nausea and vomiting. A severe migraine will be disabling to most people. Migraines have long been a sort of medical mystery. Researchers are not sure of the exact cause of migraines, but over the years have constructed a few theories. This article is going to look at the possible causes of migraine headaches.

A lot of researchers think that migraines are caused by an imbalance in the complex systems of nerves in the brain and neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain responsible for pain perception and emotions.

Serotonin is one of the neurotransmitters that researchers have studied. It has been proven that when you have a headache, your levels of serotonin drops. This in turn will cause the trigeminal nerve in your brain to release neuro peptides. These chemicals will cause the blood vessels on the outside covering of your brain to swell and the resulting pressure will produce a headache. This is the assumed mechanism of how a headache develops, but what causes this to happen.

Your headaches may be the result of certain triggers. The triggers that can produce a migraine are:

- Certain foods can trigger a migraine in a lot of people. Common food triggers are alcohol, chocolate, caffeine, aged cheeses, monosodium glutamate and other canned or processed foods.

- Sometimes skipping a meal can bring on a migraine also.

- Intense physical activity, including sex, can trigger a migraine. Too much sleep or too little sleep can also be a trigger.

- Stress is a big factor in triggering migraines. If you have worked hard all week and are starting to relax on the weekend, it may be ruined by a weekend migraine headache.

- Any type of change in your environment such as, the weather, temperature, barometric pressure and even a change in the time zone, can trigger a migraine.

- Some people are overly sensitive to all types of sensory stimulus such as, bright lights and certain smells. Certain perfumes or flowers have been known to trigger migraine pain.

- Women who are going through hormonal changes will be more at risk for developing a migraine. Researchers aren't sure why the fluctuations of hormones will trigger a migraine, but the incidences of migraines seem to increase right before or during a woman's period.

- Certain medications have been know to trigger migraine headaches.

If you are having frequent migraine headaches, try to pinpoint the trigger for them. Try keeping a journal of everything that you eat or do that's out of the ordinary each day. When you have a migraine read back through your journal and try to identify a possible trigger. If you haven't started treatment for migraines, see your doctor. He can prescribe medicine that will decrease the migraines or make them less intense. Don't suffer in pain anymore, find the cause of your migraine headaches.

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