If you’re a migraine sufferer, you’ll recognize the symptoms. A migraine is a throbbing and painful headache; the pain usually stays on one side of the head. Migraines are often “triggered” by specific situations. Migraine symptoms can be debilitating. The pain can be intense enough that a person can’t do simple tasks. The pain may cause nausea, vomiting, vision problems, and sensitivity to light.
Who Gets Migraines?
Migraines occur in women about three times more often than in men (75%, approximately). While researchers don’t know what causes migraines, migraines more often occur in individuals who also have epilepsy, depression, stroke, asthma, or anxiety. If your relatives experience migraines, you’re more likely to experience them too.
Migraine Warning Signs
For about 20% of migraine sufferers, dots, wavy lines or blurriness affect their field of vision an hour before the pain begins. For another group of migraine patients (about 25%), experience mood changes and differences in their sense of smell or taste for 24 hours before the pain begins.
- Flashing Lights – One of the most common migraine triggers is strong flickering light. Shaky fluorescent lights, an unsteady television picture, or sunlight reflected off a lake or an ocean could set off a migraine.
- Anxiety and Stress – Stress is another common migraine trigger. Many migraine patients can reduce their stress by using relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation.
- Lack of Food or Sleep – Sleep interruptions, dehydration, skipping meals, or even food binges may cause a migraine. Keeping regular habits for sleep, meals, and water intake can help prevent migraines.
- Hormonal Changes – Some women’s migraines are linked to the hormonal fluctuation of their menstrual cycle. Hormonal therapy may be beneficial.
- Foods – Red wine, cheese, chocolate, pickles, soy sauce, aged and processed meat, and MSG are all common foods that migraine patients believe trigger their migraines. Many of these foods have tyramine, which may constrict and expand blood vessels.
Tracking Personal Triggers
Triggers are unique to every person. People experiencing frequent migraines should keep a list of things that act as warning signs or triggers of a migraine.