Many people suffer from a colossal headaches called migraines and researchers have been investigating into the common triggers and how to avoid them.
The causes of migraines are not fully understood, however research has implied there are genetic and environmental factors that may contribute to causing them. Investigations have found that migraines may be caused by changes in the brain stem and its interactions with the trigeminal nerve, a crucial pain pathway.
An imbalance in chemicals like serotonin, which help control pain in the nervous system, may also be involved. However, studies continue to investigate the role of serotonin, in order to gain more facts.
Serotonin levels decrease for the duration of migraine attacks, which has been found to potentially cause trigeminal systems to release substances called neuropeptides. These substances then travel to the brain’s outer covering, which results in headache pain.
A number of things may trigger intense headache pain. Common migraine triggers and how to avoid them, include staying away from certain foods. Mature cheeses, salty foods and processed foods may all spark a migraine, as well as some food additives. For example, the sweetener aspartame has been found to be a potential cause of migraines.
Skipping meals or fasting, can also activate attacks. Studies have also suggested that alcohol, particularly wine, and highly caffeinated drinks, may also instigate these chronic headaches.
Investigators have stated that hormonal alterations in women, such as the rise and fall of estrogen seem to trigger migraines. Women with a past of migraines, often report headaches prior to, or during, their periods. This is due to a decline in estrogen. Others have a heightened predisposition to acquire migraines during pregnancy or menopause. Hormonal prescriptions such as oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy, may also make migraines worse. Some women however, have found that migraines occur less frequently whilst taking these types of medication.
Stress at work or home has also been known to influence migraines. Bright lights and sun glare can encourage headache pain, as well as loud noise. Uncommon smells, which can include things like perfume, have been found to generate migraines in some people.
Missing sleep or getting too much sleep may activate migraines in some people, just like jet lag. Intense physical actions, which includes sexual activity, may provoke head pains. A change of weather or barometric pressure can also prompt a migraine to occur.
However, not all people have the same triggers and not all triggers will cause head pain every time. Researchers are still investigating into treating migraines, which is why the FDA has approved a new magnet in order to treat them. The device will allow the user to press a button, which will release a pulse of magnetic energy. People will be able to purchase this through their doctors in an attempt to relieve headache pain.
The approval of the device has stemmed from a trail, which involved 201 patients who had suffered with migraines. In the trial tests, 113 of the patients treated their migraines with the device. More than a third of test group using the stimulator, reported a couple of hours that were pain-free following the use of the magnetic energy. One day later, nearly 34 percent of device users said they were pain-free.
With many people suffering from migraines, the triggers above can help show how to avoid activating chronic head pain. Researchers continue to investigate to try and provide patients with more answers and options.
By Melissa McDonald