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Migraine - Causes

It is observed that genetics and environmental factors play a role in causing migraines. Functions of certain chemicals in the brain may also be responsible. With the levels of a chemical known as serotonin decreasing during migraine attacks, the trigeminal nerve releases a chemical substance called neuropeptides, which travels to the brain's outer covering. The result is migraine pain.

Several factors make you more prone to having migraines, namely:

  • Family history- If the patient has a family member with migraines, then they have increased chances of developing a migraine.
  • Age- Migraines can begin at any age, but the attack usually starts in adolescence. They may become intense during the age of 30 and above, and gradually becoming less severe and less frequent in the 40s.
  • Sex- Women are three times more likely to have migraines. Although headaches tend to affect boys more than girls during childhood, at the time of puberty and beyond, more girls are affected.
  • Pregnancy- Some women report that migraine attacks begin during pregnancy, or their attacks have increased during pregnancy.

Migraine triggers

  • Hormonal changes in women- Fluctuations in the estrogen hormone may trigger headaches in many women. That could be the reason why many women experience migraine attack before or during their periods.
  • Foods- Certain foods like aged cheeses, salty foods and processed foods may trigger migraines. Skipping meals or fasting can also trigger attacks.
  • Food additives- Sweeteners and certain preservatives used in many foods may trigger migraines.
  • Drinks- Alcohol, especially wine, and highly caffeinated beverages may trigger migraines.
  • Stress- Emotional stress of any type may trigger migraines.
  • Changes in the wake–sleep pattern- Missing sleep, and conversely, sleeping too much may trigger migraines in some people. Jet lag is also a common migraine trigger.
  • Physical factors- Intense physical exertion, including sexual activity, may trigger migraines.
  • Changes in the environment- A change of weather can trigger migraine.
  • Medications- Some medicines, such as oral contraceptive pills, can trigger migraines.
  • Other factors- Bright lights and bright sun glare can cause migraines. Loud sounds, strong smells such as perfume and paints, secondhand smoking among others are all common migraine triggers.