What causes migraines?

What causes migraines? 1

Studies have suggested that a migraine occurs due to abnormal brainstem activity. This is initiated by irregular levels of certain chemicals that are released by the brain known as neurotransmitters. These chemicals cause a vicious cycle of spasms that spread like wild fire. As a result the blood vessels and the outer covering of the brain begin to spasm. The spasm reaction decreases the blood supply causing an “aura” or “fuzziness” to appear. When the spasm releases, the arteries become abnormally relaxed increasing the blood supply to the brain resulting in a migraine headache. This chain reaction could last for hours, days or weeks if not dealt with in the initial window period of pain.

There are various triggers that could bring on an attack such as stress and tension, high altitudes, change in sleep patterns, chocolate, caffeine, cheese, nuts, alcohol, monosodium glutamate (MSG), skipping meals, birth control pills, sudden hypotension, low magnesium levels, bright or flickering lights, odours etc. Everybody has different triggers that can set off a migraine. Try to avoid food or other things that seem to cause migraines. When you feel a migraine coming on try to reduce pain by lying down in a dark, quiet room, put a cold cloth over your forehead, massage your scalp and apply pressure on your temples. Get plenty of sleep. Try to relax and reduce the stress in your life.

Migraines can be life threatening as it can induce a host of serious physical conditions such as permanent visual loss, severe dental problems, aneurysms, strokes, coma and even death. Monitor the severity and frequency of your migraines. If your attacks persist or worsen, contact your doctor for further information.

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