What is a Migraine and the main causes?

a man with his hands on his head

What are some causes of migraines?

A migraine is a complex neurological disorder that causes severe, throbbing pain to radiate from one eye to the other over one side of the head. It can also cause pain in the neck and joints, or on one side or both sides of the body. Migraine often has some warning signs before headache occurs. These include an aura (sensations such as flashes of light or zigzag lines), a feeling that something bad is going to happen, depression, and nausea/vomiting.

What are the main causes of migraines?

If a person is prone to migraines, anything that interferes with the normal sequence of events can trigger a migraine. Below are the top 10 causes of migraines along with their symptoms and treatments.

1. Genetics

Migraines can be passed from parents to child by any combination of genes that contributes to the development of migraine. Several studies show that a person’s risk for developing a migraine increases when someone in the family has migraines.

Migraine has one of the highest concordance rates (over 95 percent) for neuropsychiatric conditions such as depression and schizophrenia, as well as neurological conditions such as epilepsy and Tourette’s Disorder.

2. Stress and sleep changes

Migraines can be brought on by tension, stress, or sleep changes. Sleep deprivation can also trigger a migraine. It is important for people prone to migraines to keep a regular sleeping schedule, even during weekends or vacations. Having a good night of sleep every day helps reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks, as well as the number of attacks per year.

3. Smoking

Migraines are associated with smoking and the use of other drugs such as alcohol. Research has shown that low blood sugar levels can trigger a migraine.

4. Excessive drinking

Excessive intake of alcohol can cause neurological effects, including dizziness, fogginess, and headache. Smoking can also lead to abnormal amounts of breath carbon dioxide (which is considered a form of intoxication), resulting in headaches and nausea in the morning. This is one reason why smokers often experience migraines after waking up from sleep.

5. Bright lights

Exposure to bright lights, smells, and sounds such as those from traffic can trigger a migraine. This is known as light-induced headache or photo-induced headache.

6. Medicines

Several different types of medication can be associated with headaches, including pain relievers, antibiotics, antidepressants and blood-thinning drugs. Certain medications used during pregnancy such as Tylenol can also trigger migraines. It is important to talk to a doctor before using certain medicines to avoid the risk of developing a migraine from the medicine.

7. Foods that can trigger migraines

Many people are unaware that food additives like monosodium glutamate (MSG) and artificial sweeteners have no place in their diet because they have been shown to cause headaches and migraines. Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (Equal or NutraSweet) are commonly found in diet drinks, snacks and desserts, and are generally a trigger for migraines.

There are foods that can also be triggers for migraines. These include: meats that have been processed or cured with nitrates or nitrites; nuts (especially walnuts); grains; yeast; tomatoes; chocolate; cheese; eggs and dairy products.

8. Pre-existing medical conditions

Migraines can also be triggered by other medical conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or heart disease. Since there are so many different causes of migraines, it is important for people prone to migraines to visit their doctor for regular checkups.

9. The environment

Certain environmental factors can trigger migraines. These include lighting (as mentioned above), noise, air pollution and changes in weather. Other triggers associated with migraines include altitude changes, odors from food or flowers, lack of sleep, menstruation, stress and fatigue.

10. Hormone changes

Women who are pregnant or taking birth control pills are prone to experience headaches and migraines. Hormonal changes can trigger migraines more easily in women than in men. Hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, have been shown to affect the threshold for pain in the brain.


There are many common and easily treatable causes of migraines that can be checked out and eliminated. If one or more of the above causes is present, it is important for people prone to migraines to consult with a doctor on proper treatment protocol.

Leave a Reply, You Matter!

%d bloggers like this: