What Causes Migraines and Headaches?
Headaches can be caused by several situation and migraines can build off them. Migraines are a severe form of headache which can create sensory symptoms including sensitivity to sound and light, flashes of light, blind spots, tingling in the legs and arms, nausea, and vomiting. The pain can persist for hours, even days. Generally, migraines and headaches are triggered by something. Triggers include:
- Being tired
- Skipping meals
- Smoking or exposure to smoke
- Tension headaches can cause migraines
- Irregular sleep or changes to sleeping habits
- Anxiety, excitement, depression, and/or tension
- Foods with monosodium glutamate, MSG, and/or nitrates
- Medications such as sleeping pills and hormone replacement therapy
- Foods with tyramine such as red wine, figs, aged cheese, and some beans
- Hormonal triggers such as birth control pills, menopause, or menstruation
- Bright or flickering lights, strong smells, loud noises, and temperature changes
- Chocolate, peanut butter, nuts, avocado, banana, citrus, onions, pickled or fermented foods, and dairy products
Can I Prevent Headaches and Migraines?
Avoiding the items above will assist to prevent headaches and migraines. Drinking enough water, eating consistently, and sticking to a healthy diet are all beneficial. Moving around and stretching every 30 minutes if you sit in a stationary position throughout the day is very crucial. Also avoid clenching your teeth. Low-impact exercise can also assist to prevent and alleviate pain.
What Medications Are Available?
Medications for migraines and headaches typically fall into two types of drugs are used:
- Abortive: The goal of abortive medication is to stop the migraine after it has begun or when an individual feels it coming. These can be taken by self-injection, orally, in a skin patch, or a nasal spray. They are particularly beneficial for those who have symptoms of nausea or vomiting and are fast acting. These will include the triptans which target serotonin.
- Preventive: These medications are considered if a person’s migraines occur repeatedly, generally several migraines in a week, or if the symptoms are very bad. They are created to minimize the frequency and severity of migraines and taken daily.