A migraine headache is a form of vascular headache. It is caused by a combination of vasodilation, which is an enlargement of blood vessels, and the release of chemicals from nerve fibers that coil around the blood vessels.
The temporal artery enlarges during a migraine. The temporal artery is an artery that lies on the outside of the skull just under the skin of the temple.
Enlargement of the temporal artery stretches the nerves that coil around the artery, causing the nerves to release chemicals. The chemicals can lead to inflammation, pain and further enlargement of the artery, which magnifies the pain.
Migraine attacks may be triggered by:
- Alcohol or caffeine
- Allergic reactions
- Bright lights, loud noises and certain odors or perfumes
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Commercial chocolate
- Extreme dehydration and a lack of salt in the diet
- Foods containing tryamine, such as smoked fish, chicken and livers, mono-sodium glutamate (MSG) or nitrates like bacon, hot dogs and salami
- Menstrual cycles fluctuations, birth control pills
- Physical or emotional stress
- Skipping meals
- Smoking or exposure to smoke
- Tension headaches
Migraine headaches, which can be dull or sever, usually:
- Are worse on one side of the head
- Feel throbbing, pounding or pulsating
- Last anywhere from six to forty eight hours
- Symptoms accompanying migraines include:
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Numbness, tingling or weakness
- Sensitivity to light or sound
The warning signs that a migraine is coming include seeing stars or zigzag lines, having tunnel vision or temporary blind spot.
Symptoms that may linger even after the migraine has gone away include:
- Feeling mentally dull as though your thinking is not clear or sharp
- Increased need for sleep
- Neck pain
How can I treat a migraine at home?
Sometimes, at the onset of a migraine, lying down in a dark room with a cold pack can help.
Stress management techniques, such as relaxation and massage, can help limit pain. They may also make them less often.
Try avoiding any food which seems implicated and at a later stage take a small trial dose of the food again to see whether it genuinely is involved.
The number one solution is to drink a gallon of water each day.
At the first sign of an impending migraine, drink one quart of cold water and lay down for at least 30 minutes.
This should work wanders and provide fairly quick relief from the pain.