Migraine headaches are painful, and may also be debilitating for some sufferers. If you have migraines you may be at your wits end. But, there is hope. Learning what triggers this type of headache can go a long way to understanding why they occur, as well as how to treat them.
Reducing the occurrence of migraines is much like trying to reduce the occurrence of stress in your life. Know what brings on a migraine headache and you may find the answers.
Prodrome the period before the headache, characterized by increased energy, diarrhea, irritability, food cravings, and thirst
Aura characterized by visual disturbances, sensory disturbances, and sometimes even problems with speech
Pain intense throbbing or stabbing pain that can last for a few hours to several days
Aftermath migraines are likely followed by periods of fatigue and tiredness
In your headache diary, it's also important to write down, as nearly as possible, what you were doing right before your migraine started. What was going on at home, work, socially? Here are some common trigger events for migraine headaches.
Caffeine – Most of us need a dose of caffeine to get us going in the morning. However, for migraine sufferers, that caffeine, or lack of it, may be creating a big pain in the head. If you are used to consuming large amounts of caffeinated coffee or other drink, then skipping that caffeine cold-turkey can lead to pain if your blood vessels have become sensitized to it.
Stress – Stressful events often lead the body to induce the “fight or flight” response. That's when the body is on high alert due to impending physical danger. With stress, the danger is not always physical but the body responds in the same way. Worry, anxiety, repressed feelings, and tiredness can lead to increased muscle tension in and around the brain, neck, temples, and eyes.
Menstrual cycle – Women are the ones who primarily suffer from migraines. In this case, another likely culprit for migraine headaches could be the fluctuation of hormones in the body during puberty, pregnancy, each cycle, and perimenopause.
Lack of food – When we don't eat and give our body the nourishment it needs it can lead to a headache. Some call it a “hunger headache” but constantly skipping meals can intensify the headaches and turn them into migraine episodes.
Food additives – The human body wasn't designed to digest many of the preservatives and additives that you'll find in highly processed foods. These additives can trigger a migraine episode in many people. One well-known additive that is problematic for many migraine sufferers is the nitrates found in processed meats such as hot dogs.
Sleeplessness – The sleep cycle allows the body to shut down non-vital systems and begin the work of repair. The average adult needs six to eight hours of sleep a night. When you shorten your sleep cycle or stress brings about insomnia, that sleep deprivation might be what is triggering your migraine headaches.
The first step to treating migraines is to find out what's causing them. Keeping a diary of your day-to-day activities will help you track down that trigger. The more you know about what's causing your migraines, the better chance you have of fighting them off.