Migraine Headache 101

migraine headache

Why do humans get a migraine headache? The potential answer might be a real headache. Almost everyone knows someone who has a migraine headache. If you are not so lucky, you suffer from them on a chronic basis like our fellow Spoonies diagnosed with Chronic Migraine.

What is a migraine headache?

Some people may term an extreme headache as a migraine headache which results from certain changes in the brain. Marked by recurring episodes of moderate to severe unilateral head pain accompanied by numbness, visual or sensory disturbance, nausea, and vomiting. The excruciating pain one experiences may last for hours or even days. For our Chronic Migraine Warriors, the battle may last for an estimate of 15 days over a course of over 3 months.

What are the Signs and Symptoms?

While not all migraines are alike, most people experience:

  • Moderate to severe head pain, usually unilateral but may spread or stay on one side
  • A throbbing, pulsing pain that gets more intense during a physical activity
  • Lethargy
  • Increased visual disturbance like seeing zigzag lines, stars, blurred vision, and temporary blind spots that which can be alleviated by staying in a dimmed room
  • Phonophobia or sensitivity to sound

Studies show that changes in the blood flow to the brain and brain chemical imbalance can cause to have a migraine headache. Genetics, environmental changes, pregnancy, and menopause also play a role. Though symptoms may vary, sweating, temperature changes, stomachache, and diarrhea are notable for most sufferers

What Triggers A Migraine Headache

Some people who suffer from a migraine headache can quickly identify what triggers it, others cannot. Most common triggers are the following.

  • Loud noises
  • Stress
  • Exposure to bright and flickering lights
  • Alcohol, especially beer and red wine
  • Certain food which contains MSG, aged cheeses, chocolate, nuts, peanut butter, fruits (like banana, citrus, and avocado), onions, dairy products, meats containing nitrates (cured meats, salami, bacon, hotdog)
  • Caffeine
  • Skipping meals
  • Certain odors, such as perfume or smoke
  • Lack or too much of sleep
  • Exposure to tobacco smoke
  • Hormonal medications
  • Heat and high humidity

Fluctuation of estrogen may also trigger a migraine headache in most women. Hormonal medications, oral contraceptives, and the likes may worsen it.Some people will have an aura or a warning sign before a headache starts. It often lasts several minutes and eventually goes away as the pain begins. Those who do not experience aura will also have other warning signs such as thirst, lightheadedness, craving for sweets, sleepiness, or depression.

Risk Factors For Migraines

Though women are more likely to experience a migraine headache than men, it can happen to anyone at any stage. It tends to peak during your 30’s, and gradually become less frequent and less severe as you age.

Lifestyle and Treatment Approach

Keep a record of your attacks and how you treated them. Identify the triggers for your headaches so you can avoid them. When a migraine happens, note the date and time it started. Note what you ate for the previous hours, hours of sleep, things you did before the attack, any unusual stress in your life, how long it lasted, and what you did to make it stop.

Lifestyle change and series of therapies can control your migraine headache with a combination of medications. Relaxation techniques may reduce both the frequency and intensity of attacks.

Migraine Headache is a treatable disorder often undiagnosed and untreated. If you regularly experience signs and symptoms of migraine headaches, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss your headaches. Don’t just put up with them. Learn how to prevent migraine headaches and treat them.


Family, friends, and partners play a huge part in the daily life of persons with Chronic Migraine. A lot of understanding must be practiced, having this illness affects the lives of the people around them. Apart from this circle of love, where do can people find peace and total understanding? Of course, from people with the same condition or a community that relates and does not judge. The Unchargeables, for instance, it is a huge community for the chronically ill. I swear by their Instagram page, life will be a lot lighter, try them.


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