10 Things You Never Knew About Migraines


Migraines are a common type of headache and neurological disorder that affects more than 37 million people in the United States alone. They can be excruciatingly painful and debilitating, causing nausea, vomiting and even sensitivity to light, sound and smell. The good news? Migraine headaches have many triggers that you can identify and avoid or manage if you’re prone to them. Here are 10 things about migraines that might surprise you:

Stress is not the only migraine trigger.

Stress is not the only migraine trigger.

While stress may be a major trigger for some people, it’s important to know that it can’t be pinned on as the sole cause of migraines. In fact, there are many other factors that can cause migraines:

  • Hormonal changes (for example, menstruation)
  • Head trauma
  • Food allergies/intolerances and chemical irritants such as paint fumes or alcohol sensitivities (check out this article for more information)
  • Environmental triggers like bright lights and loud noises

Migraines have a genetic component.

If your parents had migraines, then you have a higher chance of getting them too. But that’s not all!

The important thing to remember is that genetics are not the only factor in whether or not you will get migraines. Other things like diet, sleep and stress levels can also affect how often you get them as well as their severity.

Also, if one of your parents had migraines but they don’t anymore, they may still have passed on some of their susceptibility to an early-life event like an illness or trauma (not necessarily related to getting a headache). Even if it’s been years since they had their last migraine attack, this can still be an issue for you now because the effects of genetics linger even after symptoms stop being present!

There are many migraine symptoms beyond headache pain.

As you can see, there are many migraine symptoms beyond headache pain. Many of these symptoms may be caused by other conditions, but if you regularly experience one or more of these symptoms with your migraines—and not just the headache itself—then it’s worth asking your doctor about the possibility that you have a condition called migraine aura (or an associated condition).

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Light sensitivity
  • Sound sensitivity (hearing voices or sounds that aren’t there)
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Tingling in extremities such as arms, hands and feet; stabbing pains on one side of face; loss of balance/dizziness when sitting up from lying down

Migraine headaches aren’t really headaches.

If you’re used to thinking of migraines as an intense headache, you may be surprised to learn that they’re actually a neurological disorder. They’re caused by a complex interaction between your brain and the nervous system, resulting in pain and other symptoms that can range from throbbing behind your eyes to nausea and vomiting.

Migraine headaches are not caused by any underlying medical condition. In fact, they usually don’t require treatment beyond managing the symptoms—though some people are able to avoid them altogether with preventive medications or lifestyle changes such as diet adjustments or stress reduction techniques.

Caffeine can be a migraine trigger.

Caffeine can be a migraine trigger.

  • Caffeine sensitivity varies from person to person. Some people are sensitive to only small amounts, while others need more than average to experience migraines.
  • Caffeine is often a trigger for hours after consumption and sometimes even days or weeks later!

“Classic” migraines start with visual changes called auras.

  • Aura: A disturbance in the brain that can be visual, sensory, or motor.
  • Warning sign: An aura is often a warning sign that a migraine is coming. It can last for several minutes or hours and is usually followed by a headache. If you have an aura with your migraines, it’s important to let your doctor know so they can keep track of any changes in its frequency and duration over time.
  • Stroke: In rare cases, an aura may be a prelude to having a stroke on the opposite side of the body where it occurs. Those who experience this type of stroke need immediate medical attention as they are at risk for severe damage or death if left untreated immediately after symptoms occur

There are several kinds of migraines.

You might be surprised to learn that there are actually several kinds of migraines, and that they can be as different from each other as a heart attack is from a broken leg. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Migraine with aura (or classic migraine): This type of migraine is characterized by various visual disturbances (called an aura) that precede the headache. These include flashes of light, blurry vision and tunnel vision. Auras may also include visual hallucinations, such as seeing spots or snowflakes in the air or cast shadows on objects. This type of headache generally lasts four to 72 hours and occurs once every one to four months.

Common migraine: Common migraines are those without an aura but still cause headaches on 15 or more days per month. They come with sensitivity to light or sound; nausea or vomiting; weakness in arms and legs; sensitivity to smells or odors; dizziness; fatigue (feeling tired). Chronic migraine: As the name suggests, chronic migraines occur more than 15 days per month for three months in a row at least once per year for five years straight—and throughout these periods pain relief medications did not work effectively enough for them.*

Migraine treatment is complex and varies from person to person.

  • Migraine treatment is complex and varies from person to person.
  • In fact, there are more than 300 types of migraine!
  • While some individuals might find relief in medication alone, others may require lifestyle changes or therapy in addition.

Migraines can be influenced by the environment around you.

You may wish to avoid triggers in the environment around you. For example, some people find that migraine attacks are triggered by pets’ hair or pollen in the air—so it may be wise to keep your cat out of the bedroom and have a HEPA air filter for more effective allergy relief.

  • Avoiding environmental triggers can be difficult. Consider keeping a migraine diary, which allows you to track what happens before, during and after an attack so that over time you’ll be able to see whether certain foods or activities trigger your headaches.
  • Common environmental triggers include: weather changes (such as extreme cold or heat), bright lights, loud sounds, flashing lights from video games and televisions or computer screens (known as photosensitive migraines), stressors such as arguments with loved ones or deadlines at work; certain smells such as perfumes; strong odors like cigarette smoke; food additives such as MSG found in soy sauce on Chinese dishes; alcoholic beverages like red wine (especially if consumed on an empty stomach); monosodium glutamate (MSG) found in processed foods like soy sauce on Chinese dishes; caffeine from coffee drinks including tea

It’s important to get accurate information about migraines, and how they affect you personally

There are many misconceptions about migraines. Some people mistakenly believe that a migraine is nothing more than a headache, or that it’s simply the result of having too much salt in your diet. While there is some truth to both of these statements, they don’t tell the full story. Migraines can be debilitating and affect your quality of life. It’s important to get accurate information about migraines and how they affect you personally so that you can start taking steps toward getting relief from them.


In short, migraines are a complicated disease. There are many different kinds, which means that treatment must be tailored to each individual sufferer. But despite their complexity, migraines can be managed and even stopped with proper care. If you’re suffering from these debilitating headaches or know someone who is, it’s important to get accurate information about how they affect you personally so that you can take steps towards getting better.

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