Do you get migraines often? It may be due to certain factors in your environment – factors that you can hopefully control to reduce the frequency or level of pain.
First of all, a migraine is not just a headache. It can also weaken your body, make you sensitive to light and noise, affect your vision and overall feel like someone is hitting your head with a hammer. And when that happens, there’s nothing you can do but close your eyes and pray it will stop.
According to the American Migraine Foundation, it is a neurological disorder, which can occur in a very intense form (which includes symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, and pain) and can last between 4 and 72 hours.
According to a study published in the journal Headache, about 16% of adults suffer from migraines, and while they all experience similar symptoms, the factors that trigger or worsen their headaches can be different for everyone.
What causes a migraine?
It’s important to understand what triggers your migraines because it can help you prevent or reduce them. Experts don’t know exactly what causes them, but they have identified a number of factors that can trigger or make the pain worse.
What can you do if any of these factors affect you? It’s recommended that you control your stress levels, get plenty of sleep, watch your diet and, if you have a severe migraine, get some rest, take pain medication (one, not three!), stay away from screens, or even practice meditation to relax.
Skipping meals or having too few calories can cause blood sugar levels to drop, and according to the National Headache Foundation, this can lead to everything from a nagging headache to severe migraine, so it’s essential to watch your diet.
Dehydration doesn’t just affect the way you look; according to several studies, it can make many health problems worse, starting with the intensity of headaches and migraines.
Stress and anxiety
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, stress, worry or anxiety can lead to more frequent and severe migraines (stress is identified as a trigger for 70% of migraine patients). It’s not clear why, but there seems to be a clear link between these different reactions.
Changes in the weather
Feel like you can predict the weather with your headaches? The American Headache Society says that sudden changes in humidity, temperature, and pressure also have an effect on migraine, as they tend to amplify the pain.
Where things get a little more complicated is that the American Migraine Foundation says that physical activity can both trigger and treat migraines.
Regular exercise helps reduce the frequency of migraines, reduce stress and improve sleep, but it has also been shown to trigger migraines in some people, likely because it causes an increase in blood pressure, which affects the nerves in the brain.
Allergies to pollen, dust or grass, to name a few, can cause sneezing, but also increase the frequency of migraines during the season.
Bright lights, strong odors, and noisy environments can cause headaches and migraines. Some patients also report visual symptoms such as flashes of light.
All medications can have side effects, and although painkillers are often recommended for the treatment of migraines, they can also contribute to the onset of migraines if overused.
Bruxism is a tense jaw and involuntary grinding of the teeth. According to the Mayo Clinic, this condition puts stress on the jaw joints, which can lead to increased head and neck pain.
Sleep quality plays a bigger role than you might think. If you don’t get enough sleep, or if you sleep too much, it will cause a disruption in your circadian rhythm (or body clock, if you prefer) and make your migraines worse.