Migraine Symptoms, Triggers & Treatment


Migraines are one of the most common types of headaches. They often cause pain that ranges from mild to severe. The headache can last anywhere from a few hours to several days. Migraines can also cause nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light or sound (known as aura).

Migraine Overview

Migraine is a neurological disorder in which blood vessels in the brain become dilated and then contract, causing pain on one or both sides of your head. The cause of migraines is not fully understood, though they tend to run in families. Migraines can occur with or without aura, which often means that you see light or have other sensory changes before an attack starts.

In general, migraine symptoms are caused by overactive brain cells sending out electrical signals at abnormal times and places throughout the brain. This occurs when there’s too much activity among nerve cells (neurons), which happens because of chemical changes to serotonin levels within those neurons. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter—it sends messages between neurons—and when it’s released at higher-than-normal levels during an attack it causes blood vessels to swell and then constrict (or spasm), making them inflamed and sensitive to stimuli such as light and sound that usually aren’t harmful at other times.

Migraine Symptoms

You might experience a variety of symptoms with migraine, such as:

  • Headache – This can be throbbing or pulsing in nature and is usually one-sided. It can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, fatigue and irritability.
  • Nausea and vomiting – These are caused by activation of the trigeminal nerve (which controls facial sensation) during an attack.
  • Sensitivity to light and sound – Migraine sufferers often have these sensory disturbances during attacks as well because they affect normal nerve function.

Migraine Definition

Migraines are a neurological disorder that affects 20% of the population. They are more than just headaches, and can be debilitating.

  • Migraine is not caused by stress or anxiety. In fact, migraines can cause stress and anxiety themselves!

Migraine Triggers

The American Migraine Foundation lists the following triggers:

  • Stress
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Poor diet (such as dehydration)
  • Alcohol (especially red wine)
  • Caffeine and chocolate intake
  • Smoking or secondhand smoke exposure

While these are common triggers, there are many others that can cause migraines, such as: salt intake, sedentary lifestyle and weather changes. Bright lights may also trigger a migraine for some people.

What Causes a Migraine?

While the exact cause of migraines is still unknown, it’s believed that they stem from changes in the brain. Researchers believe migraines are triggered by several factors:

  • Changes in brain chemicals called neurotransmitters
  • Hormonal changes (for example, during menstruation)
  • Food additives or other substances that can be found in certain foods and beverages

Migraine headaches are more common in women than men and are also more common among people who are overweight.

Who Gets Migraines?

  • Migraines are more common in women than men.
  • Migraines are more common in people between the ages of 15 and 44.
  • People with a family history of migraines are more likely to have them.

What Are the Types of Migraines?

The types of migraines are not actually different kinds of the same condition, but rather different classifications based on their symptoms. The two main types of migraine, with and without aura, refer to the presence or absence of sensory disturbances that precede an attack. Migraine with aura is more severe than migraine without aura. Common triggers include certain foods, stress and lack of sleep.

Migraine treatment options generally include medication (for example: triptans), over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, biofeedback therapy and dietary changes such as reducing caffeine intake. If you have experienced three or more disabling migraines in any one year period then your doctor will likely recommend preventive treatment after ruling out other causes for your headaches such as stress or environmental factors like bright lights or loud noises

How are migraines treated?

As you may have noticed, migraines are a serious health concern that can have far-reaching effects on your life. While they’re not fatal and most people can control them with proper treatment, a migraine should never be taken lightly. Fortunately, there are several ways to manage migraines so you can get back to living pain-free and without interruption.

Migraine treatment options include medication, therapy and lifestyle changes:

Medication is often the first line of defense in treating migraines. Your doctor may prescribe medications such as pain relievers or anti-nausea drugs to help relieve symptoms during an attack; antidepressants (including beta blockers) are also sometimes used to treat chronic migraine sufferers who experience frequent bouts of headaches

What are the complications of migraines?

  • Nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound
  • Temporary vision problems (blurring or seeing halos around lights)
  • Temporary loss of sense of smell or taste

There are many things that can trigger migraines and different types of them.

Migraine headaches are a neurological disorder that causes intense pain. There are many things that can trigger migraines, and the type of migraine you get depends on what triggers it. Triggers can include emotional stress, certain foods or beverages (including alcohol), missing meals or sleep, light sensitivity and hormonal changes.

Migraines are difficult to treat because there’s no single cause for them. They’re not just caused by one thing; they’re also different in every person who experiences them. If you know your migraine triggers and avoid them whenever possible, this will help keep your migraines under control when they do strike


There are many different types of migraines and triggers for them. Some of them are easy to avoid, but others are not so much. I hope that this article has helped you understand what it’s like living with someone who has migraines and how they can be treated!

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