9 reasons you might have a migraine


Do you suffer from frequent headaches? Your day-to-day routine might be to blame. From the foods you consume to your levels of stress, our everyday lives are littered with objects and bad habits that can set our temples pounding. As compiled from Reader’s Digest and Health magazines, discover the source of your headache woes.

You consume ‘trigger’ foods

According to the National Headache Foundation (NHF), foods such as aged cheese and processed meats contain preservatives that may trigger migraine headaches. However, the foods that cause migraines often differ depending on the individual; surprising foods such as peas, olives, and soy sauce have reportedly triggered migraines in people. “Be your own expert by keeping a log of the foods you have eaten before a migraine attack,” advises the NHF. Doing so can help you determine which foods to avoid in the future.

Sleeping patterns

This should come as no shocker! Many migraine sufferers find that missing sleep or getting too much sleep can trigger a migraine attack. If the migraines are temporary, there’s probably no need to make a change, but if they persist it might be time to regulate your sleeping pattern. That being said, also make sure you don’t sleep too much! Snooze even a couple of hours past your usual wake-up time and the changes in your circadian rhythms can throw off levels of brain chemicals, bringing on migraines. On weekends, get up at your normal weekday time — ouch!

You’re at risk for stroke

If migraines are unusual for you, they could be a sign that you are having a stroke. “Migraine headaches can masquerade as a stroke because they have the same neurological symptoms,” shares Ralph Sacco, professor of neurology at the University of Miami. “I tell people to treat it like a stroke and call for help; let us figure it out.” Vision problems and numbness in your arms and legs are also migraine symptoms that could signal a stroke. If you find these symptoms familiar, visit a physician immediately.

You’re stressed out

Yes, it’s a fact — stress at home or work could be causing that intense, throbbing migraine pain in your skull. But here’s the good news: research has shown that meditation could be a solution to chronic migraines. One study at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre found that adults with migraines who participated in a meditation and yoga programme for eight weeks had shorter and less debilitating migraine headaches than those who received standard medical care. The members of the first group also tended to have less frequent and less severe migraine attacks, and reported having a greater sense of self-control over their migraines.

You’re sensitive to sensory stimulation

Believe it or not, flickering lights and strong-smelling perfumes could be triggering your migraine. A study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience found that when the membranes around the central and nervous system get irritated, pain receptors are stimulated in the brain. For sensitivity to light, wearing sunglasses — even at night — can limit this irritation. Also, you should avoid contact with pungent smells if they’re the trigger to your head woes.

You have hidden heart problems

Countless studies have found that those who suffer from frequent migraines could be more prone to vascular problems, such as heart attacks and heart disease. Researchers stress the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle that lowers high blood pressure and cholesterol, as well as quitting smoking. If you’re overweight, maybe cleaning up your diet and starting an exercise regimen could be the ultimate cure to your excruciating headaches.

The weather isn’t in your favour

Certain weather patterns are associated with the onset of migraines, according to researchers at the University of Cincinnati. Their study found that migraines were 28% more likely to occur when lightning struck, perhaps due to electromagnetic changes. That being said, extreme heat can also elicit migraines — if you’re prone to weather-related headaches, it would be best to remain indoors in the afternoons or wear UV-protected sunglasses while driving at that time.

Caffeine withdrawal

Although caffeine withdrawal is commonly known as a migraine trigger, researchers aren’t quite sure what causes the headache. Some believe it may be due to a signalling chemical, called adenosine, whose receptors are typically blocked by caffeine intake. But caffeine headaches don’t normally occur unless the individual has been used to drinking many cups of coffee a day. Gratefully, caffeine withdrawal only lasts for a few days, and cutting back on caffeine gradually instead of quitting cold turkey can limit the painful side effects of withdrawal.

You’re genetically inclined

Sometimes, all you can do is chalk up your migraines to your genes. A 2013 study at the University of California, San Francisco linked migraines with a certain genetic mutation in humans. It found that a significant proportion of migraine sufferers in the families they studied either had the mutation or were the offspring of a mutation carrier. Sorry parents, but you could be to blame for your kid’s condition!


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