Why Do I Have Migraine? Two classes of drugs that doctors often try first are: Triptans, which work by balancing the chemicals in the brain. Triptans are selective-serotonin receptor agonists, which means that they stimulate serotonin, a neurotransmitter found in the brain, to reduce inflammation and constrict blood vessels, which in turn stops the headache or migraine attack, according to the National Headache Foundation. For many people with migraine, the auras act as a warning, telling them that a headache is soon to come. They should not be used if you have heart disease or high blood pressure.
A migraine can cause severe throbbing pain or a pulsing sensation, usually on one side of the head. It’s often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. Migraine attacks can last for hours to days, and the pain can be so severe that it interferes with your daily activities. For some people, a warning symptom known as an aura occurs before or with the headache. An aura can include visual disturbances, such as flashes of light or blind spots, or other disturbances, such as tingling on one side of the face or in an arm or leg and difficulty speaking. Medications can help prevent some migraines and make them less painful. The right medicines, combined with self-help remedies and lifestyle changes, might help. Migraines, which often begin in childhood, adolescence or early adulthood, can progress through four stages: prodrome, aura, attack and post-drome.
Back to Migraine. It’s not clear what causes this change in brain activity, but it’s possible that your genes make you more likely to experience migraines as a result of a specific trigger. Many possible migraine triggers have been suggested, including hormonal, emotional, physical, dietary, environmental and medicinal factors. These triggers are very individual, but it may help to keep a diary to see if you can identify a consistent trigger. It can also sometimes be difficult to tell if something is really a trigger or if what you’re experiencing is an early symptom of a migraine attack. But most women experience them at other times, too, and this is called menstrual-related migraine. Many women find their migraines improve after the menopause, although the menopause can trigger migraines or make them worse in some women. Also, foods that have been stored at room temperature, rather than being refrigerated or frozen, can have rising levels of tyramine. Page last reviewed: 10 May Next review due: 10 May