10 Migraine Triggers That Start Your Headache
Sometimes no matter what you do…
Your migraine is going to start.
The biggest problem you face is no one really knows the cause of migraines.
While this makes life a lot tougher if you suffer from migraines there are certain things which can bring on that terrible pain in your head a lot quicker.
Migraine Triggers Can Lead to Migraines
Triggers refer to food/drinks you have, changes in your body or you surrounding environment which can cause your migraine to start.
When you suffer from migraines, your body has a certain threshold which keeps your migraine under control.
When that threshold is reached, that’s usually when your migraine symptoms starts.
Migraine triggers bring you past that threshold at a faster rate.
Food & Drinks
Food and drinks are the most common triggers that can lead to migraines. Certain foods and drinks that you have, contain additives which are known to aggravate the symptoms of your migraine.
- Fermented Cheese (Blue, Cheddar, Brie)
- Citrus Fruits (Oranges, lemon, lime)
- Alcohol (beer, wine, cider) – Alcohol also leads to dehydration which is another migraine trigger
- Deli Meats (Ham, Salami, Pepperoni, Sausages)
- Fried Foods
- Caffeine (Energy drinks, coffee, tea)
Consider when your migraines start. Are you usually stressed when they begin?
Stress has been shown to increase the onset of migraines especially due to situations at work which may involve increases in pressure such as meeting deadlines or excessive workload.
People who suffer from migraines are also known to be more anxious and worry which lead to chemical changes in your brain that can start migraines.
Lack of Sleep
When your sleeping patterns change it can lead to increased stress on the body which can trigger migraines.
Decreased sleep as well as excessive sleep can bring on your migraines.
If you suffer from lack of sleep it can also lead to anxiety and depression which can again cause chemical changes in the brain that produce migraines.
There is minimal evidence showing that migraines are linked to changes in weather.
Some people report that being in the sun for too long, or rapid changes from hot to cold or cold to hot weather can bring on their migraines.
Intense exercise can put large amounts of strain on your body which may induce your migraines.
Especially if you don’t participate in regular exercise and suddenly start on an exercise program it can lead to overexertion which trigger your migraine symptoms.
Strong scents have also been known to be a trigger for migraines.
Specifically perfume has been reported to bring on migraines. Smoke from cigarettes and strong smelling food can also trigger your symptoms.
Bright fluorescent lights which you will often have to deal with when at work or in shopping centres have been known to start migraines.
The bright lights lead to changes in the fixation of the pupils in your eyes and can cause headaches.
Bright lights and eye strain are directly related.
It is most common if you spend your day staring at a computer screen as part of your job. This is also linked to fixation of your pupils and can lead to a migraine.
The glare of your computer screen can trigger migraines so you should watch the brightness levels on your computer and phone screen to see if they bring on your headaches.
Since migraines are much more common in women changes in your hormones can play a part in the symptoms you experience.
If you feel your migraines coming on a few days before or during your period, they may be a trigger for you.
A change in your estrogen levels is what is thought to be the trigger.
Certain medications you take have chemicals which can affect the brain and lead to headaches and migraines.
The oral contraceptive pill also has hormones in it that can be a trigger.
Stop The Triggers, Stop The Pain
Staying away from these triggers can reduce the chances of getting a migraine…But not stop it.
Keeping your migraine triggers under control can reduce the chances of you reaching your migraine threshold.
In some cases though, no matter what you do, your migraine will still start. Usually multiple triggers at once can contribute to you headache.
Keeping track of what specific events cause your migraines can play a big role in staying away from your threshold and limiting your migraines!
If you think migraine treatment can reduce your migraines call us today or book online to see how we can help.
The Common Link Between A Cervicogenic Headache & Your Neck Pain
Have you ever experienced pain in your neck and a headache at the same time?
Maybe you thought the two were somehow related.
You were probably right.
A cervicogenic headache also known as a neck pain headache (headache originating from the neck) is becoming all too common in today’s society, especially if you spend most of your time sitting behind a desk!
What is a Cervicogenic Headache?
A cervicogenic headache is in fact not a headache at all.
This is because the underlying cause of the problem is from a change or dysfunction to the muscles, ligaments or joints in your neck.
Cervicogenic headaches (Neck pain Headache) usually relate to changes in the top 3 joints in your neck. The nerves that supply these 3 joints also run through to your head and face.
These changes cause pain to refer to specific parts of your head and face which give the perception of a ‘headache.’
Do You Know What Causes Your Neck Pain Headache
Changes to your neck come about due to altered biomechanics which therefore leads to increased strain and pressure on your joints.
The most common problem that leads to changes in your neck is poor posture.
Prolonged and repetitive activities such as sitting cause micro trauma to the joints because of forward head carriage and slumped shoulders.
Micro trauma doesn’t cause pain or headaches due to 1 or 2 days of sitting. Your body builds up stress over months to years until it can’t cope anymore.
That’s when the pain strikes.
Finding the underlying cause of your neck pain and headaches is vital to understanding why you are experiencing discomfort.
Trauma to the neck such as whiplash and osteoarthritis can also cause changes in the neck which bring on your headaches.
Your Cervicogenic Headache Symptoms Can Help your Diagnosis
While all headaches are different there is a lot of overlap in the symptoms you get between migraines, tension type headaches and cervicogenic headaches (neck pain headache).
There are specific cervicogenic headache symptoms you should look out for if you feel your neck is causing your problems. These are
- Pain on one side of the neck
- Certain movements such as flexing your neck bring on pain in your neck or head.
- Pain which is felt around the neck or the base of your skull which also refers to your face, eyes, top of your head or jaw.
- Increased tension or tenderness in your neck muscles
- Neck pain and headaches which are aggravated by prolonged periods of sitting or poor posture
- Noticeable decrease in movement of your neck
- You may also experience dizziness, blurry vision or nausea
Cervicogenic Headache Treatment Can Give You Relief
When you experience cervicogenic headaches they can come and go so often that sometimes you don’t even remember a day without them.
Cervicogenic headache treatment can help to treat the underlying cause of your headache by diagnosing the specific condition in your neck that started your discomfort.
Always See a Professional
A professional like a chiropractor, physiotherapist or general practitioner can treat your problem and give you much needed relief through specific treatment and an exercise program to reduce tension around your neck.
A chiropractor can help increase movement through certain joints, decrease tension in muscle as well as strengthening weak muscles through adjustments/mobilisations (gentle movement of joints) and muscle techniques. This can help to correct your postural changes.
You should always see a health professional because in some cases your headache may be coming from a serious medical condition such as:
- Dissection of an artery in your neck
A detailed history and examination can determine this for you.
If you feel that neck pain headache treatment can help resolve your pain give us a call today or book online and quote this page for your free assessment.
Migraine Causes – Why You Suffer When Others Don’t
Think back to your last migraine…
What were you doing just before it started?
You probably weren’t doing anything too different to what you usually do.
So what caused your migraine to start up?
The Causes of Migraines are Unknown
When most people want to know about migraine causes, what they’re usually looking for are the triggers that bring on migraines.
Unfortunately, the true underlying mechanism that starts migraines still isn’t known.
I know that doesn’t help much, but when it’s worked out, it’s going to make you and a lot of other people very happy.
There is some valid research on what is thought to be the cause of migraines but it hasn’t been completely proven just yet.
The Theory of Migraine Causes
It used to be thought that changes in blood flow to the brain caused migraines.
This is no longer the case.
The most recent theories about what causes migraines relate to your central nervous system.
Your central nervous system contains your brain and spinal cord and controls all the activity in your entire body.
It’s now thought that chemical changes in the brain are the major contributors to the start of your headache.
Specifically a chemical known as serotonin.
Serotonin’s role is to reduce the perception of pain in your central nervous system. When there is a reduction in serotonin in your brain it can be a large factor in starting your migraine.
Interestingly enough, serotonin continues to decrease after your migraine starts. This causes the release of substances which travel to the protective layer of your brain and cause migraine pain.
The Causes Of Migraines May Be From The Neck
In your upper neck are 3 nerves known as cervical spinal nerves and another important nerve known as the trigeminal nerve.
These nerves make up a column known as the trigeminocervical nucleus (I know…Not the easiest name to remember!)
The nerve fibres in the trigeminocervical nucleus have a role in decreasing the pain signals going into your brain.
Your brain has a threshold which limits your perception of pain.
When these nerves stop functioning correctly the threshold decreases. This allows pain to come on a lot quicker and leads to pain referral in the head, eyes, face and neck…otherwise known as some of the symptoms of migraines.
It’s starting to be shown that people who suffer from migraines have a lower threshold in their brain to begin with than non-sufferers.
Theories Aren’t Always Right…But They Can Be!
Like stated above, these migraine causes are not proven to be the definitive reason for your migraines.
But they very well could be!
If you do suffer from migraines, make sure you speak to a health professional to find out if your migraine symptoms may be coming on from a more serious underlying condition or what you can do to start treating your migraines.
If you feel as though migraine treatment can help you call us or book online today to see what we can do to reduce your pain.
The Migraine Symptoms That Make You Suffer
Do you experience any symptoms before your migraine starts?
Maybe your symptoms come on at the same time as your migraine.
No matter which of those above 2 groups you fit in, the migraine symptoms you experience and the pain they cause is both dreaded and excruciating.
While what you feel may not be the same as a person suffering from the exact same migraine, there are still specific signs that you will notice.
This brings up the question: What are the migraine symptoms you experience when the pain comes on?
The Symptoms Of A Migraine Help To Tell It Apart From Different Headaches
There are several symptoms unique to migraines.
In fact to be diagnosed as having one there’s even a certain criteria classification that is followed.
The symptoms you have will depend on which of these 2 common migraines you experience:
- Migraine without aura
- Migraine with aura
Migraine without aura
If you suffer from a migraine without aura you’re part of the 80-85% who go through them when a migraine comes on.
To be categorised with a migraine you must have 5 episodes of the following symptoms, all lasting between 4-72 hours, as well as 2 of the following 4 symptoms:
- Sharp pain on one side of your head
- Pain which is pulsating or throbbing in nature
- Pain of a moderate to severe intensity (This can depend on your perception of pain)
- Pain which is aggravated by normal physical daily activities such as walking or driving
You must also be experiencing 1 of the following 2 symptoms:
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Increased sensitivity to light or sound
Migraine with aura
If you are forced to deal with a migraine with aura you’re part of the 15-20% who experience even more symptoms.
An aura is what you may go through before your migraine starts. They are usually visual in nature.
The aura will normally come on 20-30 minutes before your migraine where you may experience:
- Flashing lights
- Zig zag lines
- Blind spots
- See movements which are in slow motion (Strobe light effect)
These symptoms all occur as visual problems. On top of that you may also suffer from neurological signs such as:
- Pins and needles down the arm (and sometimes the tongue)
- Weakness in the muscles of your face or arms
- Ringing in your ears
It generally lasts for 5-45 minutes and is followed by the symptoms described above in a migraine without aura.
The major difference between the two types of migraines is the visual symptoms you experience in a migraine with aura.
Your Migraine Symptoms Can Come From An Underlying Problem
While the cause of your migraines is generally unknown, there are specific migraine triggers which can bring them on and in rare cases come on due to an underlying problem. These include things such as a tumour or vascular problem such as internal bleeding in the brain or vessels in the neck.
These are rare conditions but may still mimic the symptoms of a migraine.
Due to the similarity in symptoms, an assessment and examination from a health professional such as a doctor, chiropractor or physiotherapist is important to rule out these severe underlying causes.
If you suffer from the symptoms of a migraine whether they be with or without aura, chiropractic migraine treatment may help. For an assessment of your migraine symptoms, call us today or book online to see what we can do to help you.
Can You Tell The Difference Between Headache And Migraine?
The sharp, throbbing ache you feel in your head…
The one that stops you from focusing, the one that keeps you up at night.
That’s your body telling you “you have a migraine”…or is it a headache.
Knowing the difference between headache and migraine is crucial because it changes what you can do to reduce or even get rid of the problem.
So What’s The Difference Between Headache And Migraine?
A migraine is actually a specific type of headache!
The three most common types of headaches are:
- Tension-type headache
- Cervicogenic headache (headaches coming from the neck)
Do You Have A Migraine?
Now you know what a migraine is how do you know if you have common migraine symptoms?
- Does your headache last 4-72 hours?
- Is it one sided and pulsating?
- Is it severe enough to stop you from working
- Does it cause you to feel sick or vomit
- Does it increase your sensitivity to sound or light
If you answered yes to these questions its likely you have a migraine.
In fact – If you have a family history of migraines there’s a 7/10 chance1 you’ll suffer from them too.
The good news is, if it’s correctly diagnosed, the underlying migraine causes can be identified and treated, leading to:
– Less stress
– More concentration
– Less discomfort
Is Your Headache Coming From Your Posture?
If your headache makes you feel as though there’s a rubber band squeezing against both sides of your head chances are you have a tension type headache.
This differs from a migraine in a few ways:
- They tend to get worse in the afternoon
- You’ll feel it on both sides of your head
- It’s a dull (and annoying) ache
Cervicogenic headaches on the other hand are headaches due to changes in the structure of the neck.
If you feel that you can’t move your neck as freely as you used to and you get neck pain with certain movements along with your headaches, the cause of your headache may not be from your head at all.
Prolonged sitting with bad posture can change the structure of the joints and muscles in your neck. These changes can cause pain to refer to your head causing a ‘headache’.
Diagnosis Of Headaches Is Extremely Important
Its vital to correctly determine what is causing your headache so that the best path to recovery is taken.
The most effective way to do this is through a full examination that involves a series of questions to diagnose your exact problem.
Now that you know the difference between headache and migraine, make sure to stay on the lookout for the tell-tale signs and symptoms of which one you have!
If you feel as though you suffer from a headache or migraine and want to have an examination to get an accurate diagnosis and see if migraine treatment is right for you book online or call us today to speak to a Chiropractor in Sydney CBD at Spine and Posture Care.
1 Souza, T. (2008). Headache. In: Differential Diagnosis and management for the chiropractor. London: Jones and Bartlett Publishers. 521.