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What causes migraines?(70 Posts)
Recovering from yet another cracker of a migraine today. Worst I’ve ever had in my life - sobbing uncontrollably and screaming into a pillow at its peak But what causes them? I get them out of the blue and it’s awful. I work full time and I always feel so bad having to leave work so suddenly. I get zero warning it’s coming until it hits!
Good question! There are theories, I think. The migraine websites migraine.org.uk and migraine trust.org have good information and could help you build a preventative strategy.
There are quite a few medication options now - so it's worth asking your GP.
After a few instances last year where I had to get DH home from work to take care of the kids I got a prescription for sumatriptan. Fortunately I have yet to need it. I think it can be a bit trial and error and sadly I know some people find it very hard to stop migraine affecting them, even with medication.
Thanks, I’ll check those links out. I definitely need to make a trip to the GP to talk it over, my otc medication just isn’t cutting it any more. I’d prefer to work out what my causes are so I can hopefully prevent, rather than just medicate though. It’s just so hard!
Causes are vague. Mine is definitely linked to overheating and neck stresses from poor posture, but it's never as simple as that. Red wine used to be a trigger - but I've not had a glass in 18 years.
There is a fascinating school of thought that migraine is a variety of epilepsy, based on brain scans during an attack having distinct similarities.
For me, bad (bad) headaches & migraines can be brought on / made worse by
Too much screen use
Using screens in dark / poor light
Not enough fluids
Jaw clenching / teeth grinding
I don’t get migraines often but did have one yesterday. Blinding pain and sickness. ‘Luckily’ I mainly get bad headaches.
I love it when people ask this question. It's a bit like asking how long is a peace of string. There are multiple answers, me lying hear in bed with a cold pack on my head.
I've had chronic migraine (classed as more then 15 days a month with migraine for 16 years). I've done a lot of reading tired drugs , diet, excerices and alternative therapy. Haven't got many single triggers apart from hormones.
Another thing to look at it's really rare to get a sudden migraine without a predrome (that's pre warning symptoms). This phase though can be very sutle. For example today I thought my migraine had come out of the blue. But then I realised that 1. I woke up early this morning and couldn't go back to sleep. 2. I felt quite cold at work today inside 3. I was hungry all morning, even after lunch.
Now some people will mistake the walking up early as a trigger. Or if you crave something sweet and eat chocolate (I do that to sometimes). But predrome phase of a migraine can start upto 24 hours before the actual migraine. Making it even harder to pin down courses.
Now bearing in mind I've written this with a fuzzy head if anything doesn't make sense please ask. I'll look back tomorrow when I'm hopefully feeling a bit better. Oh and I couldn't write this at all if a wasn't taking two different prevetatives and I've also taken eletriptan this afternoon as well.
If sumatriptan doesn't help you can always ask for a different triptain. It's the oldest and cheapest triptain is often prescibed first but is the lest effective as it's not well absorbed in tablet foam. Most people I know who use it effectively use the injection foam or nasel spray.
For me, certain smells, change in weather/ hormones - get them more when my period is due- the light (always have sunglasses even when it's cloudy out, certain types of light almost paralyse me)
I bloody hate migraines. Bane of my life. I use sumatriptan and naproxen, plus rizatriptan (all prescribed by dr)
Hope you're feeling better soon
On a physiological level it's probably to do with blood vessels in the brain dilating (getting bigger), this changes the blood flow to certain areas of the brain which can then cause pain and / or the symptoms associated with aura.
There is a link between migraine sufferers & likelihood of suffering certain types of strokes which is why migraine sufferers are advised against certain types of hormonal contraception.
What works for me is a lorezepam - a sleeping tablet - it knocks me out and the migraine is gone when I wake. I can't think why this is not the standard treatment. Nothing else works.
I am not sure whether you are talking about causes or triggers.
The triggers for me are to do with TV and cinema screens, especially the high contrast between the dark of the theatre and the light of the screen - massively worse if I am also trying to read subtitles. I always wear sunglasses in the cinema - otherwise I am likely to rush out trying not to vomit!
As to what causes them - who knows? It has been a matter for research for yonks. There seems to be a wave of abnormal activity that flows through the brain and causes all the mayhem.
There is also a theory that the "triggers" we think we have are actually early warning signs of migraine. For example - if i thought my migraine was triggered by too much chocolate, it could have been a migraine symptom making me crave sugar
My triggers include prolonged artificial light and dehydration
I have massively reduced the number of episodes by getting computer prescription glasses I really recommend them
My triggers vary, although the most usual is certain types of chocolate (usually cocoa in something dense, like brownies or cake). Isn't the pain something to do with constricted blood vessels? I've certainly done the agonised sobbing.
My treatment is preventative - I take propranolol and amitriptyline daily, which has done a great job at reducing them from 15 days a month to the odd one every few weeks. Been on that regime for 15 years. Never used any of the triptans, only migraleve or paramol. Or 3 paracetamol plus 1 ibuprofen as a one off.
My triggers are dehydration, bright light (especially spotlights and sunlight), flickering lights, change in body clock (sleeping in, not enough sleep), being too hot.
Shortage of sleep
Neck muscle tension( related to old injury)
Certain strong perfumes
Being over tired
For some odd reason I always went through a really bad patch February/March too
Sumatriptans helped, tablets and nasal spray for the terrible ones. I usually have a stiff neck before it starts and the day before I’m ravenous
Thankfully now I’m menopausal they’re improving, some good things come with age
Hirons bless you. I've been where you are. It's horrible.
My triggers used to be stress and weirdly conversely relaxation after periods is stress. I remember pain so bad I couldn't put my head on the pillow.
I had terrible migraines in teens and onwards. Late 30s into 40s and mine are much much milder. And these days my trigger is low blood sugar
I don't know, someday. The boys both have food triggers - cheese and chocolate for both of them. Chocolate creates a pretty rapid and obvious reaction in DS2 and he's only had one big one since we withdrew it from his diet - that was a pukey humdinger and we have no idea what the trigger for that was other than, possibly, overexcitement at visiting his grandparents. The one before that, was after we withdrew the chocolate. It was "only" a pale, headachey one but also unexpected - he'd been at his other grandma's house and had helped himself to a biscuit. His symptoms were so unexpected that I asked her what kind. Oh, it was just a little Maryland cookie.
I get neck related headaches, which are miserable, but they're quite different from my hormonal migraines, which hit me mid month or just before a period. I can't eat strong cheese in more than minute amounts, any more. And no more Christmas stilton. I usually empty out when a migraine happens but not that spectacularly!
i agree about the pre- signs. I often have a really weird, restless night before a morning one. I've realised I often get a bloaty gut, too - it just stops working properly, hence the sudden emptying.
Hormones. Migraines started at 12 and eased at 50. Used to be 6-8 days a month of crippling pain, extreme vomiting and confusion.
Now three days of dull pain, nausea and lethargy every couple of weeks.
Triggers: light, as other posters, candles, sunshine, screens, Noise, cigarette smoke, smells, sleep, neck pain, alcohol, dehydration.
Mainly though - hormones.
For me, the main triggers are stress, hormones, and certain foods/drinks. Fortunately, chocolate is not a trigger for me, though sadly red wine is. Also certain types of processed foods, e.g. some kinds of sausages. I always get the pre-migraine visual aura so at least I have fair warning it's coming.
You have my sympathies, Hirons. I hope you're able to work out what to avoid and/or find appropriate medication or other treatments.
My main triggers are stress and being over tired. Although dark chocolate and shellfish also triggered and these days I simply avoid them.
DH says I am usually hyper for a few days before and I find the day before or in the hours before the migraine arrives smells, sounds and colours are exaggerated.
Once it subsides I sleep for hours and am washed out for days.
I dont think I had a single migraine when i had a job as a zumba instructor. 4 hours teaching plus practice. Never felt better.
Mine are clustered around hormones (end of period, mostly), but I also have strong ones triggered by any alcohol at all, too much chocolate (>30g), and too much red meat (more than about 100g).
I am particularly underwhelmed by the most recent one, chocolate. It is rude.
I take 'magic pills', Zolmitriptan, when I get one. They mostly work pretty well.
Too much sugar.
Too much water.
I get cluster headaches if I eat too much pasta, bread etc.
Never had a migraine though, thankfully.
I have been tracking my DS 13 migraines, and I can not find any similarities at all:
At school in a lesson
Walking home from school
After a trampoline party
Playing in local ford
And then yesterday he woke up with one.
All different days of the week, and waking up with one is completely different.
I am starting to think dehydration after the trampoline party, but i have no idea how to prove it.
For me, a combination of two or three of the following.
Chocolate ] In more than a tiny amount
Citrus fruit or juice ]
Not eating enough
Hormones-usual before my period
One on it's own would rarely cause a migraine, two would increase the risk, three of those together, I was done for! I don't have them frequently, in fact rarely now, as I know what I can and cannot do, also not longer have periods.
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