Learn about the causes of Migraines & find a practitioner in Auckland, Hamilton, Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin to help you overcome Migraines within New Zealand.
A migraine is a severe headache typically affecting one side of the head. Migraines can have accompanying symptoms of nausea, vomiting and dizziness coupled with sensitivity to light and sound. The two prevalent types of migraine and termed 'classic' and 'common'. Migraines can affect people of all ages.
Causes of migraines
The exact causes of migraine headaches are unclear but a key element is
a change in blood flow around the brain from a variety of triggers.
Migraine headaches are vascular headaches that may be caused by
chemical changes in the brain. Before the headache begins, a drop in
level of the message-sending chemical serotonin narrows blood vessels
and causes symptoms of aura (flashing lights, lines or vision loss).
This is followed by an enlargement of the temporal artery and further
chemical releases under the skin of the temple causing pain and
inflammation. Hormones are also linked to migraines and women are more
likely to suffer a migraine attack during the time of their period.
Triggers for migraine headaches can be from emotional, physical, environmental, dietary and pharmacological factors. Emotional factors such as stress, anxiety, depression, trauma or excitement can trigger a migraine attack. Physical factors such as being overly tired, poor posture, muscle tension, sleep disturbance and travel can lead to migraine headaches. Environmental factors of loud noise, bright lights, pollution, strong odours, computer monitors, air quality and temperature changes can trigger migraines.
Poor diet and specific foods have also been associated with migraine headaches. Irregular eating patterns, dehydration, excessive alcohol consumption and dieting can lead to migraine attacks. Migraine sufferers have also linked drinking caffeine and eating chocolate, cheese and citrus fruits to their attacks. Pharmacological factors from prescribed medicines such as sleeping pills, contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy can trigger migraine headaches.
'Classic' migraine headaches have several associated symptoms. Before
the headache begins (typically 15-60 minutes) an aura of flashing
lights, zigzag lines or blurred sight affects the periphery edge of
vision. This can be accompanied by tingling, stiffness and lack of
coordination. Auras can be warning signs of an imminent migraine
headache which will have the symptoms associated with a 'common'
Common migraine symptoms are an intense pain on one side of the head (that can shift position) and the headache is usually described as a throbbing pain made worse during movement. Accompanying symptoms can include nausea, vomiting and increased sensitivity to light, sound and smell. Migraines can last anywhere from 4-72 hours and its effects can leave a sufferer feeling tired for many days afterwards.
A migraine is unpredictable and it will help a GP to diagnose it by keeping a diary of where and when the attacks occur and what foods were eaten that day. A GP can perform a physical and neurological examination to determine mental functions such as vision, reflexes and sensation. These simple tests can rule out any underlying condition that may be the cause of the headaches