What is a Migraine?
Migraine is a severe headaches caused by a number of factors. Some people also refer to migraines as tension headaches, given the fact that they are a common symptom when someone is undergoing anxiety. Though the causes vary, medical experts do argue that the condition stems from two main factors: genetic factors and environmental factors.
How it Occurs
A migraine attack usually starts when there are changes in your brainstem with respect to how it interacts with the trigeminal nerve (a major nerve receptive to pain). When serotonin levels drop in the body, the trigeminal nerve is triggered to release chemicals known as neuropeptides which find their way to the meninges (outer area of the brain) which results in severe pain.
Common Causes of Migraines
If you constantly get migraines, you may have noticed some common pre-disposing factors. The triggers vary with individuals, but common complains cited by most people include; migraines from allergic reactions, emotional and/physical stress, high sensitivity to bright lights, perfumes, specific odours or bright light. Other causes include exposure to smoke or tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption, changes in sleep patterns, or irregular sleep patterns, menstrual cycles or consumption of tyramine in foods.
Tension Headaches are mild head pains characterised by a feeling of tightness around the head. When tension headaches become prolonged and recurring, they eventually graduate to distressing migraines. Excessive consumption of caffeine or withdrawal symptoms from caffeine can trigger severe migraines.
A change in weather conditions is likely to trigger the condition as well, especially during storms, changes in altitude, and fluctuations in barometric pressure or change in altitudes.
Who Gets Migraines?
Migraines or tension headaches are frequent in women than in men. Medical statistics show that in every 4 women, one is likely to be suffering migraines. In men, the statistic is different; in every 12 men, one is likely to suffer migraines.
Is there a Cure?
Over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen, paracetamol, or naproxen can eliminate the severe pain. Serotonin agonists may be used for migraines that refuse to respond to over-the-counter drugs. Sometimes a lifestyle change can help clear migraines without having to visit a doctor or pharmacist; try and get enough sleep, avoid tyramine rich foods, reduce the stress in life, work out regularly and drink lots of water.
Migraines or severe headaches are often manageable with the above highlighted treatment options. However, for severe and recurring tension headaches, it is important to get a head scan to check for tumours, clots, or blockages in the blood vessels leading to the brain.