Migraines are a debilitating, chronic health complication that affects roughly 36 million people in the United States alone. Migraines are more than just headaches; they come with additional neurological symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and light/sound sensitivity. These symptoms can last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours and often leave those with migraines feeling burned out and exhausted. There is no known cure for migraines, but preventative medications are designed to reduce the frequency of attacks and relief medications that can be taken on an as-needed basis by those suffering from a migraine attack. Individuals experiencing a migraine should see a Charlotte migraines specialist. Here are some common causes of migraines.
Many things can trigger migraines, but hormone fluctuations seem the most prevalent cause. Since hormones affect neurological function, changes in hormone levels can wreak havoc on how your brain functions and impact other bodily systems. Estrogen plays a significant role in migraine triggers, as estrogen affects serotonin receptors which play a big part in the brain’s pain processing. Migraines are more common in perimenopausal and postmenopausal women due to fluctuating hormone levels but can also cause severe migraines in younger women experiencing hormonal fluctuations (i.e., during periods, puberty).
Another common cause of migraines is dehydration. Migraine sufferers generally need to drink more water than the average person to prevent headaches and other symptoms. Dehydration causes blood vessels to constrict, which puts pressure on the brain and results in a migraine attack. Even slight dehydration can cause severe headaches that are similar to migraine attacks.
Stress can be a factor in triggering migraines, and most people experience stress daily. It’s important to understand that the most common symptoms of acute stress (i.e., short-term stress) are headaches and muscle tension or pain; this is because during periods of stress, the body releases endorphins that block pain signals to the brain. When stress is prolonged, it can cause significant damage to your body and result in chronic illnesses, including migraines.
Bright Lights and Loud Noises
Another common cause of migraines is bright lights and loud noises. Migraine sufferers are more likely to experience a migraine attack in the presence of these stimuli, particularly while trying to sleep. You can experience bright lights during storms that contain lightning; sometimes, the brain’s response to light stimulus (called”photophobia”) can be so intense that migraine sufferers will retreat to a dark room at the first signs of a storm.
Medications are a common cause of migraines. Medications that cause drowsiness or dizziness can trigger migraine symptoms even if they’re taken during your non-symptomatic period. Migraine sufferers should avoid over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin, as these can aggravate migraines and lead to additional symptoms.
Some people find particular foods trigger their migraines. Since everyone’s triggers are different, it’s a good idea to keep a food diary and monitor your daily eating habits. Foods that can trigger migraines include processed meats, nuts, chocolate, cheese (particularly aged cheeses), alcohol (especially red wine), avocados, and MSG.
In summary, common causes of migraines include hormone fluctuations, dehydration, stress, bright lights and loud noises, medications, and some foods. If you’re experiencing severe migraines regularly, it’s essential to speak with your doctor about treatment options.