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Migraine – causes, symptoms and remedies

  • Simply put, migraine is a specific kind of a headache. The term migraine emanates from an old French word, megrim, which refers to a syndrome of dizziness, head pain, and nausea. It eventually became known as a migraine and people who get them are called migraineurs.

    It is widely believed that a migraine occurs due to an outside trigger that causes nerve spasms within the brain or the sheath covering the brain. This spasm constricts the blood vessels and creates the migraine aura or lights that people often experience.

    Then, the blood vessels over relax allowing too much blood flow to the brain. This causes pressure to build and pain to occur. Migraines can last for a few hours or, in some people, a few days! In short, migraines can be short and intense in duration or prolonged and miserable.

    Until recently, not much was known about this condition. Recent researches in this area have helped in the identification of the causes, symptoms and remedies of a migraine.

    It is also important to state here that this condition is more common in women. The degrees of suffering vary from person to person just like the causes.

    Causes of a migraine

    According to ongoing research, a migraine results when the blood vessels in the brain become enlarged. Though science is not certain of the exact migraine causes, there is enough evidence to suggest that certain factors, hereditary and environmental, play a significant role as triggers to the onset of migraine attacks. As science learns more about the causes of migraines the preventative and acute treatments improve, and the remedies available to migraine headache sufferers increases.

    It has been pointed out that genetics is an important determinant, and research shows that you are 50% more likely to experience migraines if you have one parent that suffers from migraine headaches. However, it is also important to note that migraine causes vary from person to person.

    Below is a list of some specific causes of a migraine:

    • Foods– Some foods have been proven to trigger a migraine, they include, beer, chocolate, MSG, dairy products, beans, processed meats containing nitrates, soy sauce, caffeine, Aspartame, and anything fermented, pickled or dried.
    • Environmental factors– Environmental factors that cause a migraine includes, bright lights or flashing light bulbs, sun glare, strong odours such as second-hand smoke, or paint can all bring on a migraine headache.
    • Hormone– Pre-menstrual syndrome can be a migraine cause for many women as a result of hormone fluctuations. Oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy can worsen the severity and frequency of migraines as well.
    • Stress levels– Stress at home or at work is another migraine trigger. Find ways to reduce stress levels in your life.
    • Physical factors– Disruption to sleep patterns and changes to exercise, sexual activity, hormones, or back or neck pain can all be a migraine cause.
    • Weather changes– This has to do with the change of season, altitude, type of weather, barometric pressure or time zones can cause migraines.

    Related article: Evil headache + 30 more migraine symptoms you need to know

    Symptoms of a migraine

    One important thing to understand about a migraine is that it differs for all sufferers. Just as the causes differ for persons the symptoms also vary from person to person. Many people who suffer migraines feel it in slightly different ways.

    So, there are numerous symptoms of a migraine that is why it is a little difficult to diagnose it. In a classical migraine, the headache is often preceded by auras. Auras are flashes of lights. This can be coloured or dark lines that can show up for about 15 to 30 minutes before a headache would start. Aside from a headache, people with a migraine may also experience symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. Abdominal discomforts are also possible which is why vomiting is often a common symptom.

    There are some cases wherein symptoms of a migraine are not easily identified. A migraine should not be taken for granted because it can also lead to other serious conditions such as stroke. Although a migraine, in general, is not a threat, migraine can also be a symptom of an underlying medical condition that needs immediate medical attention.

    Remedies

    Natural remedies for migraines include the use of B12 vitamins. B12 vitamins can substantially reduce the frequency and duration of migraine headaches. Other home remedies for migraines include keeping a food diary and staying away from offending foods and drinks. For instance, eliminating consumption of chocolate, red wine, caffeine and aged cheeses can dramatically reduce the number of migraine headaches that an individual experience as these foods and drinks are known migraine triggers.

    Applying ice to the affected area of the head is another effective remedy for a migraine. Also, the use of massage during a migraine headache. By gently massaging the area of pain and pressure, blood flow is increased, the muscles become relaxed, and pain is often decreased.  Massage can also help reduce the anxiety as well as nausea which often accompanies a migraine headache and more importantly simply resting in a dark, quiet room is often enough to take the edge off a migraine.

    Talking about a migraine, you may also want to know about anxiety, a state of mind which, if not control, can lead to severe health problems.

    References

    Webberley, H. (2017, June 20.) Migraines: Symptoms, treatment and causes. Retrieved August 09, 2017, from the Web

    Pallarito, K. (2011, October 18.) 18 Signs you’re having a Migraine. Retrieved August 09, 2017, from the Web

    Khanna, P., &  Tarneja, S. (2005, April 11.)  10 reasons why you suffer from a migraine. Retrieved August 09, 2017, from the Web 

    Sullivan, D. (2013, February 6.)  Migraine Treatment – Options, Questions, and Information. Retrieved August 09, 2017, from the Web

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