Understanding the Causes and Symptoms of Migraines
If you’ve ever experienced a migraine, you know just how devastating and debilitating they can be. They can range from dull aches to splitting agony, and they can be accompanied by visual disturbances, light sensitivity and more. A migraine is certainly no fun, and if you’re prone to them, it’s important that you understand migraine causes and symptoms.
Who Can Be Affected?
According to the Mayo Clinic, anyone, of any age, can experience a migraine. They have been reported in childhood, adolescence and adulthood. What’s more, those who never experienced a migraine during childhood or their teen years could still suffer from these headaches during their adulthood.
Migraine Signs and Symptoms
Migraine headaches symptoms can be vast and varied, and they can differ from one person to another. The symptoms that you experience will also depend on where you are in the three-part cycle. A migraine is broken into three separate parts – the prodrome, the attack itself, and the post-drome.
During the first stage (prodrome), you may notice changes in your body, including stiffness in your neck, increased urination and mood changes, particularly from low to high (depression to a euphoric state). You may also notice auras before or during a migraine. Flashes of light and wavy vision are two of the most common migraine signs and symptoms. Others can include loss of vision, and even difficulty with body movements.
During the attack itself, you may feel pain on one or both sides of the head, as well as in your neck. The pain may pulse or throb, and you may be sensitive to light. The headache itself may also be accompanied by vomiting and lightheadedness.
After the attack, during the post-drome portion of the migraine, it’s common to notice that you feel moody or confused. You may also be dizzy or feel weak. Light sensitivity can carry over to this portion, as well.
What Are the Causes of Migraines?
The actual causes of migraines are not particularly understood even today. However, there is correlation between many factors and experiencing a migraine headache. Genetics definitely plays a role – if a close family member suffers from migraines, there’s always the possibility that you will, as well.
An imbalance in chemicals in the brain can also cause migraines, as can hormone imbalances. Interestingly, magnesium is also a key player here. Can magnesium deficiency cause migraines and headaches? The answer seems to be “yes”. In fact, headaches and migraines are often associated with symptoms of magnesium deficiency because the mineral is so important in a healthy nervous system and nerve functionality. Taking a magnesium supplement can help prevent migraines and other headaches from occurring.
Migraine triggers can explain why migraines and headaches occur, at least to some extent. These are usually outside forces that cause a migraine to begin, although some triggers are internal, such as magnesium deficiency, or hormonal imbalance. Some of the most common migraine triggers include the following:
- Additives in Food: Many foods contain chemical additives that are used to prolong shelf life, add color, change the way a food tastes, and for other reasons. While most people are not susceptible, many do find that these additives trigger migraines. MSG is probably the most infamous, but there are others.
- Alcohol: While alcohol in moderate amounts can be important for overall health, some alcoholic drinks can trigger migraines in certain people. This is particularly true of wine, although highly carbonated beer (and non-alcoholic beverages) can also trigger these headaches.
- Medications: Some medications (both over the counter and prescribed) can trigger migraines in certain people. This is particularly true with vasodilators, as well as birth control medication.
- Strong Smells: Strong perfume, noxious odors and strong-smelling chemicals can all trigger migraines in many people.
Migraine Causes and Cures
Currently, there are no cures for migraines, unless your headaches are related to magnesium deficiency. Taking a magnesium supplement can boost your body’s levels to the point that you are no longer susceptible to these headaches if that is the case. However, be careful not to take too much, as magnesium overdose can lead to serious health conditions in its own right.