The Unknown Migraine

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migraine.jpg    Migraines are never truly understood.  Ever experience a migraine?  I have.  For me, the migraine starts as me seeing stars, such as when you take a picture and the flash hurts your eyes.  Then, I get a headache that does not seem to go away until I go to sleep.  Then sometimes the headache can lead to me becoming nauseous and sometimes throwing up.  I was always told by my parents I get these migraines from lack of sleep or my blood sugar being low from not eating for a long period of time.   
  The definition of a migraine, according to the Mayo clinic staff, is intense throbbing and pulsing in one area of the head and commonly accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound. 
  Although I think I know why I get my migraines, nobody knows the true cause of them; however, scientists do have an idea.  Migraines can be caused by changes in the brainstem and it's interactions with the trigeminal nerve.  This nerve is a large pain pathway.  Also, an imbalance in the brain chemicals such as serotonin may also contribute to migraines.  Serotonin  helps regulate pain throughout your nervous system.  Serotonin levels tend to drop when a person has a migraine.  Migraines trigger your trigeminal system to release substances called neuropeptides.  These travel into your brain's outer covering called meninges, resulting in a headache.  
   Other things that may trigger migraines are hormonal changes in women, certain foods, commonly alcohol, cheese, chocolate, overdose of caffeine, salty foods, Asian foods and processed food. Also, skipping meals or fasting can make a migraine come about.  I am not saying to not eat these things, however, having too much of some of these things can trigger the brain to have a migraine. But please because I said this do not be scared to eat them!! A few other causes of migraines are stress, sensory stimuli such as bright lights and loud sounds, changes in sleeping patterns, physical factors such as physical exhaustion, changes in environment such as weather, and certain medications. 
   There are many tests one can take to determine if they have a migraine.  One is called the Computerized tomography (CT).  This uses X-ray pictures to show a cross-sectional view of your brain. This also helps doctors diagnose tumors, infections and other medical problems that can possibly cause headaches.  Another test is Magnetic Response Imaging also known as an MRI.  MRI's use radio waves and a magnet to create a detailed view of the cross-sectional picture of your brain.  This helps doctors diagnose strokes, tumors, aneurysms, neurological diseases, blood vessels that supply the brain and other abnormal activities in the brain.  The last test is the spinal tap also known as the lumbar puncture.  If the doctor think something more serious is going on such as meningitis, which is inflammation of the membranes (mininges) and cerebrospinal fluid circulating the brain and spinal cord.  
  I was looking for any experiments done on migraines; however, I could not find any.  I think the information the researchers have come up with about migraines is correct.  From personal experience I can say their symptoms and causes are identical to what I feel when I get them.  
  Do you ever get migraines?  If you do why do you feel you get them?  I had a teacher in high school who said she gets migraines when it rains.  I think I get them from lack of sleep and food.  What about you? 
  This link links you to a video by Mayo clinic about migraines with aura.  Auras are usually visual but could also be sensory, motor, or verbal disturbances. This is a good visual about migraines. 

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1 Comment

More research definitely needs to be done on migraines. Are certain people more at risk for migraines than others? My sister used to get them all the time, but I never do. When my sister told my doctor she got these bad headaches, he asked if our parents or grandparents got them. He told us they run in families and when we asked around, my grandma did in fact get migraines frequently when she was younger. Migraines are inherited conditions and involve complex genetics. So I guess genetics explains why my sister gets migraines, and I'm lucky it didn't get passed to me! To add on to the list of things that causes migraines, I found that smoking, menstruation, weather changes, and travel also cause them. I can see why these things would cause migraines, but I can't figure out why certain foods, like hotdogs, lunch meats, and yogurt cause migraine. I couldn't find anything online. What do you guys think?

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