Updated: Mar 19
Women are more likely to experience migraines than men, and estrogen is the main culprit. Migraineurs who are women may notice that their headaches become more frequent during adolescence, pre-menopause (the years leading up to menopause), or post-menopause (the period after a woman's last menstrual cycle).
Estrogen helps stimulate serotonin receptors in the brain to promote well-being and calmness. It also causes blood vessels to constrict which can help decrease pain. When levels drop, those activities go down as well causing decreased moods and increased sensitivity to migraine triggers. Migraines can be triggered by many different things such as stress, hormone changes as mentioned above, dietary factors such as caffeine intake or not eating enough, lack of sleep or over-sleeping, weather changes and even the time you eat can affect your migraines.
Auras Before Headaches
Migraine sufferers may also have auras before their headaches begin as these are neurological symptoms that precede a migraine. Not everyone experiences auras but those who do will experience visual disturbances such as seeing spots or wavy lines in addition to other neurological symptoms which include vertigo (an illusory sense of movement), tingling on the skin, speech impairment and temporary confusion. Migraine auras can also be accompanied by temporary paralysis of one side of the body known as hemiplegia.
Migraine Induced Pain
Migraines themselves cause pain on any or all sides of the head and last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours. Migraine pain is usually throbbing and can get worse with any kind of physical activity such as walking. Migraine sufferers will experience nausea, vomiting, irritability and mood changes in addition to the pain they feel. Migraines are diagnosed through a patient's medical history and by ruling out other conditions that cause similar symptoms. Migraine headaches cannot be detected through imaging tests like an MRI or CT scan (this means no brain scans!) and there isn't a known test for diagnosing migraines which is why it's important to keep a migraine journal detailing when you get your headaches and what seems to trigger them so your doctor has more information on hand while formulating the proper treatment plan for you. Migraine sufferers should also wear a medical ID bracelet to alert paramedics and urgent care doctors of their condition in case they experience a migraine while out in public. Migraine sufferers have a 1 in 4 chance of developing a condition known as chronic migraines which happen 15 or more days per month. Chronic migraines can be even more painful than regular migraines and often come with additional symptoms such as temporary blindness, neck stiffness, numbness on one side of the body and fatigue. Migraine sufferers should talk to their doctor to see what options are available including prescription medication and over-the-counter pain medications that may help treat migraines.
Some steps that can help these migraines include:
Migraine sufferers should try to get plenty of sleep and consider naps if they can't get the rest they need during nighttime hours. Migraines are more common in people who lack sleep or don't get enough rest. Getting enough shut-eye will help reduce overall stress levels, boosts your immune system and helps you stay healthy to prevent migraines from occurring. Migraine sufferers should also avoid excessive napping as sleeping too much can cause fatigue which is a major migraine trigger for some people.
Migraine suffers should try to eat regularly even if their appetite isn't very good during a migraine because skipping meals can make them worse. Skipping meals might seem like it would be helpful but it's actually counterproductive because it causes blood sugar levels to drop which worsens the severity of migraines. Migraine sufferers should also avoid caffeine and dietary triggers such as chocolate, MSG (monosodium glutamate), nitrates and tyramine-containing foods. Migraine suffers should always read labels for hidden sources of these ingredients in order to avoid them even if they aren't obvious from the name of the food product. Migraine sufferers might also want to make a list of trigger foods and keep it on hand while grocery shopping so they can avoid buying their triggers altogether.
Migraine sufferers should get plenty of sunlight every day because it improves serotonin levels in your brain which helps reduce migraines. Serotonin is a molecule that has many functions including boosting mood and controlling vomiting. Migraine sufferers might also want to try taking a warm shower or doing some other relaxing activity when they start having an aura because it can help reduce the severity of the migraine. Migraine suffers should avoid anything that causes their head to hurt or worsens their symptoms even if it's something natural like exercise, yoga or meditation because these activities are likely to trigger migraines if you're prone to them.
Migraine sufferers should make sure to talk with their doctor about all possible treatments including prescription medication and over-the-counter pain relief options in order to see which works best for them. Migraine sufferers might also want to play around with ways that help migraines by using complementary therapies.
To conclude , there are many different reasons that a woman may suffer from migraines. Migraine sufferers should talk to their doctor to see what options they have including prescription medication and over-the-counter pain relief options so they can live a healthy, active lifestyle. Migraine sufferers might also want to play around with complementary therapies in order to lessen the severity of migraines if they occur.
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