Migraines remain one of the more mythical elements of the chiropractic world. They are pulsating, throbbing, perforating, pounding headaches that are accompanied by a slew of “delightful” symptoms.
While the exact cause of migraines isn’t fully understood, as chiropractors in Springfield, Illinois we’ve seen our fair share of these intense, debilitating headaches and have identified certain migraine triggers.
The thing that separates migraines from other types of headaches, like a tension, sinus, or cluster headache, is their symptoms. In addition to the pain, migraines usually have a warning system about one to two days before the headache itself. Symptoms can include:
- Food cravings
- Fatigue or low energy
- Frequent yawning
- Neck stiffness
If one is “lucky” enough to get a migraine with aura, about 10-30 minutes before an attack, they could experience:
- Difficulty speaking clearly
- Feeling of prickling or tingling sensation in their face, arms or legs
- Seeing shapes, light flashes, or bright spots
- Temporarily losing their vision
A real thrill ride. The attack phase is the most severe and can include:
- Increased sensitivity to light and sound
- Dizziness or feeling faint
- Pain on one side of the head, either on the left or right, front or back or in the temples
- Pulsing and throbbing head pain
But wait it’s not over! The “postdrome” phase, after the attack has subsided, brings with it changes in mood. Feelings can swing from euphoria to fatigue and apathy. A mild, dull headache may persist throughout this phase.
All of this is incompatible with human life. No one needs a headache, let alone a headache that induces vomiting and leads to feelings of despondency, that’s what Mondays are for.
Because of the neurological implications of migraines, at the Springfield Wellness Center we’ve identified certain triggers – an event, change, external stimulus, or physical act – that provoke migraine attacks. Triggers are like a light switch that, when flipped, turns on a process in the brain that can result in pain and other migraine symptoms. The same trigger might not work all the time, but the more switches that are flipped the higher the risk.
Surprisingly not a trigger, but will be added to honorable mentions because of its consistency.
A dramatic increase of either physical or psychological stress can trigger a migraine. Some researchers have reported that between 50%-80% of people with migraines say they were triggered by stress.
About half of people with migraines report an intolerance for smells during attacks. Cigarette smoke, food odors, and perfumes are the biggest offenders here. A great excuse to ask coworkers to stop microwaving fish in the office break room.
These 4 Essential Oils are the exception to the rule. They are game changers when it comes to headache relief.
3. Lights and Sounds
Bright, flickering, pulsating light or loud sounds often serve as triggers. Neurologists believe that they are secondary triggers and are usually more potent when experiencing sleep deprivation, stress, dehydration, or low blood sugar.
4. Female Hormones
Women are three times more likely to experience migraine headaches than men. Women are most likely to get severe migraine headaches during menstruation, with the use of oral contraceptives sometimes making symptoms worse.
5. Lack of Sleep
Ironically enough, excessive sleep is also reported as a trigger as well. We just can’t win. Jet lag or changes in a work schedule can also be linked to the onset of migraines.
6. Hunger or Dehydration
Don’t skip a meal. Skipping meals is frequently linked to migraines, most likely as a result of falling blood sugar levels.
Dehydration is also a frequent trigger. We need half our body weight in ounces of water a day. Anything less than that will put unnecessary stress on our bodies.
Diet is one of the most frequently reported triggers, following closely behind fasting. So it’s safe to say the things we eat, and don’t eat, are definitely migraine triggers. The worst offenders are alcohol, chocolate, and caffeine.
This is one of the most commonly reported triggers and, unfortunately, it disproportionately affects women. In a study, just 8% of men were triggered by red wine while among women that number jumped to 22%.
9. Medication Overuse
People who abuse analgesics or painkillers are more likely to have their occasional migraines graduate to chronic migraines. Not to mention many OTC 💊 used to treat headaches actually contain significant amounts of caffeine which can be a trigger as well. Overall, medication is just not the way to go. These natural alternatives are a much better route.
In a study of adolescents in Brazil, weather patterns most likely to trigger headaches included sunny and clear, hot, cold, and changing weather. So…weather. Lightning is also thought to be a precipitating factor of headaches, and of Thor’s arrival.
Not all of these triggers will be true for all migraine sufferers. It’s important to understand which of these are personal nightmares. Keeping a diary to track the correspondence of symptoms with sleep, eating, exercise, bowel movements, menstrual cycle, even the weather, is a great way to get specific about what is triggering the migraines.
Headache pain can range from a mild inconvenience to
Identifying and treating them as early as possible, not just covering up the symptoms, will help to minimize their effects and prevent them from returning in the future. Check out these Natural Remedies for Headache Relief that don’t have all the nasty side effects that come with OTC medication. Our body’s inability to adapt is an indication that our nervous system is impeded in some way.
At the Springfield Wellness Center we specialize in correcting the structural issues in the spine that are interfering with the nervous system’s ability to do its job, which can result in pain and dysfunction throughout the body. Through a comprehensive exam we’ll be able to identify how a patient’s lifestyle is impacting their pain and create a strategy of chiropractic care to get them living pain free and fancy free! Call our office or schedule an appointment with one of our amazing doctors here.