What are migraine attacks, and how are migraine headaches different from other chronic headaches, or occasional headaches?
What makes it a migraine?
Migraine is a collection of symptoms that occur as a result of a brain disorder; hence migraines are considered a neurological illness.
Migraine headaches differ from other types of chronic headaches in that they begin in the brain. While tension headaches and stress headaches are caused by muscle tautness and anxiety, the source of migraines is much more difficult to track, as it may be rooted in various biochemical reactions that occur in the nervous system. While scientists understand that migraines occur in the brain, they do not yet understand why migraines happen.
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The definition of “chronic migraine” is applied if you experience 15 or more migraine days in one month, with migraine headaches lasting at least 4 hours, for at least 3 consecutive months.
Headaches from stress, muscle pain, or congestion are conditions that are easily treated by alleviating the underlying cause.
To alleviate migraine illness, you need to find out which specific triggers (“migraine triggers”) are the stuff that set the migraine attack into motion.
What are migraine triggers?
Migraine triggers don’t really cause migraines, per se, but collectively increase your odds of ending the day with a raging migraine attack.
Anything that raises your risk of having another “migraine day” is considered a trigger. If drinking coffee results in a severe migraine later in the day, as it does for some migraine patients, then coffee is your migraine trigger to be avoided.
Other migraine triggers are harder to identify- they may lurk in your environment. Weather changes, strong scents, bright artificial lighting, and even stress are common triggers that exacerbate migraine illness.
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To avoid migraines, one of your greatest tools is trigger avoidance. It won’t cure the illness, but it will make life more manageable.
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