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What causes migraine headaches?
If you have experienced a migraine headache, you know the difference. Migraine headaches can be absolutely debilitating. They can knock you flat and leave you feeling weak and vulnerable. There is no defined and agreed upon cause for migraines, but we do know that they have occurred in the human condition throughout history. From Biblical references to notable figures in history like Napoleon Bonaparte, the shared experiences have been the same. In my younger years, I experienced migraine headaches on a regular basis. Doctors and physicians could never really give me a direct answer to my question: What causes migraine headaches?
To being with, we have to realize that people experience pain in varying and different levels. What might be considered the norm for one group is not the same for another. It is therefore difficult to establish a defined locale and pain definition for migraine headaches. Another confusing factor regarding migraines is that studies are limited to humans.
Symptoms of migraine headaches may include one or all of the following: Approximately twenty four hours before the headache, the individual may experience irritability or depression. Upon the onset of the migraine, the sufferer can have light flashes, wavy linear lines in vision and other vision impairment, throbbing or pulsing in one section of the head, sensitivity to light and sound and even nausea. While the migraine is usually preceded with a lighter pain, it can also sometimes occur in a sudden jolt of pain. Either way, the person who has had migraines before recognizes the pain in an intimate way that differentiates it from a standard headache.
First we have to take a look at the two forms of headaches: Primary and secondary. Migraine or cluster headaches fall into the primary category and are therefore not caused by bacteria, viruses or any internal organ dysfunction. Migraine headaches are often related to vascular circumstances which can involve environmental triggers that include: stress, heat and lack of sleep or food. Approximately seventy percent of those people that experience migraine headaches have an immediate relative that suffers from migraines. Another interesting fact is that of the people that have migraines, seventeen percent are female as opposed to six percent male. Frequency declines after the age of forty. Studies in the United States have shown that white (Caucasian) women have the highest degree of migraine instance while Asian women have the lowest.
Over the years of study it has been found that the body chemicals of dopamine and serotonin were found to play a part in migraine headaches. These brain chemicals can cause the brain to act and react in abnormal ways. If found in the blood vessels and arteries, they can cause vascular reactions of spasm, closing and then a rapid opening. This can cause the most common symptoms of haze, lights and the initial pain of the migraine. Other triggers that have been noted have involved both lifestyle and estrogen levels.
Treatment of the migraine headache can be accomplished with the latest variety of medications called triptans. These medications target the serotonin receptors. Other non-triptan medications are available and target and target the receptors for dopamine and noradrenaline. While a direct answer cannot be addressed to the question of what causes migraine headaches, science continues the study to help those that suffer from them.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.
|Headache26 Mar 2010|