Is It A Trigger Or A Warning
We know that the brain of someone with migraine likes balance, like regular sleep and meal patterns. We also know that migraine can be triggered by alcohol and the menstrual cycle. The evidence for other triggers, such as exercise, eating chocolate and bright light, is less certain.
It can sometimes be difficult to tell if something is really a trigger, or if what youre experiencing is an early symptom of a migraine attack.
Studies have found that sometimes what you may think is a trigger is actually to do with the premonitory or warning stage of a migraine attack.
During this stage, you may get symptoms such as changes in your mood or emotions, cravings for certain foods, and being more sensitive to light, sound or smells.
These symptoms can lead to you think that something is triggering your migraine attack. For example, at the beginning of a migraine attack, you may start to crave sweet foods. You may then eat some chocolate to satisfy the craving. When you then get a headache, you may think that eating chocolate was the trigger. But actually you were starting to have a migraine attack when the cravings started and the cravings were the warning sign.
The same could be true for other triggers. If you are more sensitive to light in the warning stage, you might think bright lights are a trigger. If you are more sensitive to smells, you might think certain scents are a trigger.
Migraine During Womens Life
The womans reproductive cycle is regulated by the hypothalamic-hypophyseal-ovarian axis through the release of estrogen and progesterone. Variations in the levels of these hormones and of their feedback control regulate the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, puerperium, and menopause .
Hormonal changes and incidence of migraine without aura in women
When pregnancy occurs, the trophoblast releases the human chorionic gonadotropin which allows the corpus luteum to continue to produce estrogen and progesterone until the formation of the placenta. The placenta, from that point on, produces the majority of estrogen and progesterone necessary for the pregnancy. Serum levels of estradiol and progesterone begin to rise in the mother during the 6th to 8th week of pregnancy and continue to gradually increase to their highest levels during the third trimester serum estradiol levels during the third trimester of pregnancy are 3040 times higher and progesterone levels are 20 times higher than their peak levels during natural menstrual cycles. The hormonal levels drop sharply during the puerperium that is defined as the time from delivery of the placenta through the first few weeks after the delivery and represents the phase in which the womans body returns back to prepregnancy condition.
I Get Migraines Right Before My Period Could They Be Related To My Menstrual Cycle
More than half of migraines in women occur right before, during, or after a woman has her period. This often is called “menstrual migraine.” But, just a small fraction of women who have migraine around their period only have migraine at this time. Most have migraine headaches at other times of the month as well.
How the menstrual cycle and migraine are linked is still unclear. We know that just before the cycle begins, levels of the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, go down sharply. This drop in hormones may trigger a migraine, because estrogen controls chemicals in the brain that affect a woman’s pain sensation.
Talk with your doctor if you think you have menstrual migraine. You may find that medicines, making lifestyle changes, and home treatment methods can prevent or reduce the pain.
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Coeliac Disease And Gluten Sensitivity
Coeliac disease is a serious condition where a persons immune system reacts when they eat gluten and causes damage to the lining of their gut. When this happens, they have symptoms such as diarrhoea, bloating, vomiting and stomach cramps. There can also be serious complications if it is not treated, such as anaemia. There is no cure for coeliac disease and people with it need to avoid gluten all their life.
There have been studies into the link between coeliac disease and migraine. There is no evidence to suggest that coeliac disease causes migraine. It is thought that if people with coeliac disease and migraine follow a gluten-free diet, this may help with both of their conditions.
Gluten sensitivity is when a person has a bad reaction if they eat gluten. They may have similar symptoms to coeliac disease, but there is no damage to the lining of their gut or the risk of serious complications that can happen with coeliac disease.
Gluten is found in foods that contain wheat, barley or rye. These include pasta, bread, cakes, some sauces and most ready meals.
One of the symptoms of gluten sensitivity is headache. But there is no evidence that gluten sensitivity causes migraine. However, if you are sensitive to gluten, you may find that if you eat food containing gluten, it makes migraine attacks more likely or the symptoms more painful.
What Causes Migraines In Women
Women account for 85% of chronic migraine sufferers. In fact, around 28 million females experience migraines in America alone.
Migraines can stem from triggers including stress, weather changes, medication, and even diet. However, the imbalance between migraines in men vs women is largely due to the presence of hormones.
So what causes migraines in women and how can you ease the pain of these debilitating events? Follow along to discover everything you need to know, from migraine triggers in women to the prevention of the painful occurrence.
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Theories About Migraine Pain
Older theories about migraines suggested that symptoms were possibly due to fluctuations in blood flow to the brain. Now many headache researchers realize that changes in blood flow and blood vessels don’t initiate the pain, but may contribute to it.
Current thinking regarding migraine pain has moved more toward the source of the problem, as improved technology and research have paved the way for a better understanding. Today, it is widely understood that chemical compounds and hormones, such as serotonin and estrogen, often play a role in pain sensitivity for migraine sufferers.
One aspect of migraine pain theory explains that migraine pain happens due to waves of activity by groups of excitable brain cells. These trigger chemicals, such as serotonin, to narrow blood vessels. Serotonin is a chemical necessary for communication between nerve cells. It can cause narrowing of blood vessels throughout the body.
When serotonin or estrogen levels change, the result for some is a migraine. Serotonin levels may affect both sexes, while fluctuating estrogen levels affect women only.
For women, estrogen levels naturally vary over the life cycle, with increases during fertile years and decreases afterwards. Women of childbearing age also experience monthly changes in estrogen levels. Migraines in women are often associated with these fluctuating hormone levels and may explain why women are more likely to have migraines than men.
Changes In Or An Irregular Sleep Schedule
The connection between migraine and sleep is undeniable. Sleep renews and repairs all parts of the bodyincluding the brainso it makes sense that when your sleep schedule becomes irregular, you are more prone to migraine attacks. Something else to note when it comes to sleep: Nearly half of all migraine attacks occur between 4:00am and 9:00am, putting people at a greater risk for developing a sleep disorder.
How to cope: Try to go to bed at the same time every night, and aim to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep. Eliminate TV, texting, reading, and listening to music while in bed, and try your best not to nap during the day. This article from the AMF Resource Library has great information and tips on how to make a sleep plan that works with your lifestyle.
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What Should I Do When A Migraine Begins
Work with your doctor to come up with a plan for managing your migraines. Keeping a list of home treatment methods that have worked for you in the past also can help. When symptoms begin:
- If you take migraine medicine, take it right away.
- Drink fluids, if you don’t have nausea during your migraine.
- Lie down and rest in a dark, quiet room, if that is practical.
Some people find the following useful:
- A cold cloth on your head
- Rubbing or applying pressure to the spot where you feel pain
- Massage or other relaxation exercises
What Causes Migraines In Females
The exact cause of migraines is unknown. Researchers think that migraine occurs because of an increase in the level of neurotransmitters, chemicals that send messages among the brain cells, in the brain.
This increase in neurotransmitters is believed to create overactive nerve cells, which in turn send signals to the trigeminal nerve that is responsible for the sensation in the head and face. Activation of the trigeminal nerve leads to the release of a set of chemicals that cause the blood vessels to swell and pain.
People with migraines react to a variety of factors and events, known as triggers. A combination of triggers may set off an attack.
Some common triggers include:
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When Should I Seek Immediate Help Or Contact My Healthcare Provider
- You are experiencing the worst headache of my life.
- You are having neurologic symptoms that youve never had before, including speaking difficulty, balance problems, vision problems, mental confusion, seizures or numbing/tingling sensations.
- Your headache comes on suddenly.
- You have a headache after experiencing a head injury.
Schedule a visit with your healthcare provider if:
- The number or severity of your headaches increase or your headache pattern changes.
- Your medications no longer seem to be working or youre experiencing new or different side effects.
How To Identify Triggers
If you have migraine, almost anything can be a trigger. This means it can be very difficult to identify your potential triggers. It may also be a combination of a few things that seems to lead to a migraine attack. And a trigger may not lead to a migraine attack every time, which can confuse things even more.
Here is an example of how combinations of triggers can work: A young woman has identified that her migraine attacks appear to be triggered when she skips meals, is feeling stressed and when she is about to have her period. If she comes home late from a very stressful day at work, her period is just about to start, and she goes straight to bed without eating a proper meal, she will almost certainly have a migraine attack. However, if she skips dinner another time, when the other triggers did not happen, she will probably not have migraine attack.
Many people find that they sometimes go a long time without having a migraine attack. During this time, your body may seem to be less sensitive to triggers and you may find that even the combination of your usual triggers doesnt result in a migraine attack.
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Who Gets Migraines What Are The Risk Factors
Its difficult to predict who may get a migraine and who may not, but there are risk factors that may make you more vulnerable. These risk factors include:
- Genetics: Up to 80% of people who get migraine headaches have a first-degree relative with the disease.
- Gender. Migraine headaches happen to women more than men, especially women between the ages of 15 and 55. Its likely more common in women because of the influence of hormones.
- Stress level. You may get migraines more often if youre high-stress. Stress can trigger a migraine.
I’m Pregnant Can My Migraines Still Be Treated
Some migraine medicines should not be used when you are pregnant because they can cause birth defects and other problems. This includes over-the-counter medicines, such as aspirin and ibuprofen. Talk with your doctor if migraine is a problem while you are pregnant or if you are planning to become pregnant. Your doctor might suggest a medicine that will help you and that is safe during pregnancy. Home treatment methods, such as doing relaxation exercises and using cold packs, also might help ease your pain. The good news is that for most women migraines improve or stop from about the third month of the pregnancy.
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When To Seek Medical Attention For A Headache
If you are having headaches often, it may be an indicator that there is an underlying medical problem that should be addressed. It is important that you talk to your physician immediately so you can describe the headaches, the intensity, and frequency of the attacks. Such information is needed so that the doctor will be able to provide you with the appropriate treatment.
If you experience any of the following symptoms while having a headache, do seek medical attention immediately:
If you used to not have headaches but now experience it often You had an accident or blow to the head and then you experience a headache after that You have convulsions while having a headache You become confused or you cant focus because of the headache The headache is severe and you also have a stiff neck There is pain around your ear or eye during the headache During a headache, you feel nauseous, experience vomiting, or have sensory problems such as tingling or numbness in some areas of your body If your headache is causing you to miss school or work, and you cant function properly in your everyday life If the headache comes often in a month and it lasts for a number of a hours up to a few days
How Can I Tell If I Have A Migraine Or Just A Bad Tension
Compared with migraine, tension-type headache is generally less severe and rarely disabling. Compare your symptoms with those in this chart to see what type of headache you might be having.
|Aura before onset of headache||x|
Note: Rebound headache may have features of tension and/or migraine headache. Adapted from a table produced by the American Council for Headache Education.
Although fatigue and stress can bring on both tension and migraine headaches, migraines can be triggered by certain foods, changes in the body’s hormone levels, and even changes in the weather.
There also are differences in how types of headaches respond to treatment with medicines. Although some over-the-counter drugs used to treat tension-type headaches sometimes help migraine headaches, the drugs used to treat migraine attacks do not work for tension-type headaches for most people.
You can’t tell the difference between a migraine and a tension-type headache by how often they occur. Both can occur at irregular intervals. Also, in rare cases, both can occur daily or almost daily.
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Are There Different Kinds Of Migraine
Yes, there are many forms of migraine. The two forms seen most often are migraine with aura and migraine without aura.
Migraine with aura . With a migraine with aura, a person might have these sensory symptoms 10 to 30 minutes before an attack:
- Seeing flashing lights, zigzag lines, or blind spots
- Numbness or tingling in the face or hands
- Disturbed sense of smell, taste, or touch
- Feeling mentally “fuzzy”
Only one in five people who get migraine experience an aura. Women have this form of migraine less often than men.
Migraine without aura . With this form of migraine, a person does not have an aura but has all the other features of an attack.
What Are The Causes Of Migraines
As to what factors exactly cause migraine attacks is not yet known. Many experts think that the attacks are because of abnormal changes in the brain. Some of these changes can be causes of inflammation which then makes the blood vessels found in the brain to become swollen. When this happens, the nearby nerves are pressed which then causes pain. The genes are also a factor why some people suffer from migraine attacks. Those who have migraines may have particular genes that function differently when it comes to how brain cells function.
What experts know is that people suffering from migraines react to various factors called triggers. The triggers can be different from one individual to the next. Not all of the triggers always cause a migraine attack. Rather it is a combination of various triggers that can cause a migraine attack to take place. How a person reacts to the triggers can also be different. In women, some of the common triggers for migraines are the following:
To determine the triggers of your migraine attacks, it is best to keep a diary so you can record the times when you have a headache. For days that you have a migraine attack, record that in the diary. Along with that, you can also record the following:
It is important that you talk to your physician about the triggers you have recorded in your diary so that you will be given the appropriate treatment for your migraine.
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Whats A Migraine What Does A Migraine Feel Like
A migraine is a common neurological disease that causes a variety of symptoms, most notably a throbbing, pulsing headache on one side of your head. Your migraine will likely get worse with physical activity, lights, sounds or smells. It may last at least four hours or even days. About 12% of Americans have this genetic disorder. Research shows that its the sixth most disabling disease in the world.
What Tests Are Used To Find Out If I Have Migraine
If you think you get migraine headaches, talk with your doctor. Before your appointment, write down:
Your doctor may also do an exam and ask more questions about your health history. This could include past head injury and sinus or dental problems. Your doctor may be able to diagnose migraine just from the information you provide.
You may get a blood test or other tests, such as CT scan or MRI, if your doctor thinks that something else is causing your headaches. Work with your doctor to decide on the best tests for you.
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