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6 Causes of Migraines


Do you suffer from migraines? If so, you’re part of a group that may be larger than you think. According to the Migraine Research Foundation, migraines are the third most prevalent illness in the world. Nearly 1 in 4 American households has someone who gets migraines.

Overall, 12% of Americans get migraines; among women, that number rises to 18%.

As migraine sufferers know, a migraine is far worse than a regular headache. About 9 in 10 Americans with a migraine can’t function normally during the attack. Moreover, 1 in 5 of those who suffer from chronic migraines are in so much pain that they’re considered disabled.

It’s clear that migraines are a major issue. But by learning the triggers and causes of your migraines, you can better manage your migraines and hopefully lessen their severity and limit their occurrences.

If migraines are interrupting your daily life, come see us at Physical Medicine & Wellness Center of Northern Kentucky. Benton Dammel, DC, Ashley Phillips, APRN, and the rest of our team are dedicated to helping you find relief from your pain and other life-disrupting symptoms.

Dr. Dammel is a highly skilled physician and chiropractor who practices comprehensive, evidence-based care to help his patients achieve lasting relief.

Migraine symptoms

So, what separates a migraine from a strong headache? To start, migraines are usually more painful than headaches and have debilitating effects. Common migraine symptoms include:

  • Pain usually on one side of your head, but often on both sides

  • Pain that throbs or pulses

  • Sensitivity to light, sound, and sometimes smell and touch

  • Nausea and vomiting

Migraines often are hard to treat with traditional painkillers. Many people can only find relief by lying down in a quiet, dark room.

Migraine aura

In addition to migraine symptoms, about 20%-30% of people with migraine disorders experience a phenomenon called aura. Aura typically occurs about an hour before headache symptoms develop and lasts 20-60 minutes. Aura symptoms include the following:

  • Blind spots

  • Zigzag lines that gradually float across your field of vision

  • Shimmering spots or stars

  • Changes in vision or vision loss

  • Flashes of light

  • Numbness

  • Speech or language difficulty

  • Muscle weakness

Normal migraines and migraines with aura are treated in the same way.

What causes migraines?

Unfortunately, the exact “cause” of migraines is currently unknown. However, doctors have established two things: Migraines are a neurological disorder and genetics play a huge role in who suffers from migraines.

Almost 90% of people with migraines report having family members who also suffer from these headaches.

Six common migraine triggers

Some people suffer migraines without warning. However, many find that there are usually some signs that a migraine attack is on its way. These signs, known as triggers, can help you prepare for a migraine. Six common triggers are:

  • Tannins in coffee, tea, and red wine

  • Dairy products

  • MSG in food

  • Changes in weather, especially atmospheric pressure changes

  • Lack of sleep

  • Hormonal fluctuations

Your triggers also play a role in how our team in Florence, Kentucky, chooses the right treatment plan for your specific needs.

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