Migraines are complicated neurological disorders that can be caused by a wide variety of differing factors. It is therefore difficult as an individual to pinpoint a single exact reason as to why you might suffer with migraine. Let’s look at some of the factors we do know can play a role, as understanding these may help you to better manage your migraine by avoiding certain triggers.
Research has shown that family history and genetics play a key role in determining the likelihood that one may experience migraines. This means there is a large element of unavoidable biology that may make you more susceptible. In fact, it is estimated that up to 90% of people with migraines will have someone within their family who also has experiences of the condition.
Aside from genetics making you more prone to migraine attacks, we now also understand that environmental factors and sensory experiences such as changes in weather, changes in altitude, bright lights, loud noises and exposure to certain chemicals or smells can trigger migraines in some people. We recommend keeping a headache diary to help individuals try and identify any triggers that can bring on a migraine.
There are some things that we sometimes simply can’t control such as stress and hormonal changes associated with the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, or menopause. Emotional stress, such as anxiety and physical stress, such as overexertion or physical injury and fluctuations in oestrogen levels are all known to trigger migraine attacks for some individuals.
Annoyingly, some of the most enjoyable food and drink items such as alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, cheese, and meats can lead to all those horrible symptoms of migraine. It really is so frustrating for individuals who do suffer with migraine to have to consider the fact that the things they eat can have an impact, but understanding what triggers your migraine and having an effective action plan in place for preventing and managing migraines are essential tools for those who do suffer.
If you haven’t read our blog post on medication overuse headache then we suggest you have a read of that, because perhaps surprisingly the repeated use of certain medications can also lead to chronic daily headaches and a worsening of your symptoms.
This all feels a little doom and gloom, but by understanding what impacts you can help you make small lifestyle changes that can make a real difference. Learn to avoid your triggers, look to take regular exercise, and maintain good sleep habits, practice managing stress and look for treatment tools that conveniently work for you such as gammaCore. If you are experiencing frequent headaches or other symptoms of migraines, it is important to speak with your doctor to make sure you have a proper diagnosis and treatment plan to work with. Good luck, and please be reassured it is possible to reduce the frequency and severity of migraines and improve quality of life by understanding exactly what to avoid and how to manage your own personal experience of migraine.