What are the Causes of Migraine?

The exact cause of most migraines isn’t completely known. Generally, you can be predisposed to having them, and an environmental trigger can cause a migraine to develop.

Factors you can't control

Several elements can make you more likely to have migraines. There’s no guarantee that you will, but these factors can set the stage for having a migraine.

  • Genetics

If your parents or other close relatives have migraines chances are good that you will too.

  • Gender
Women are much more likely to have migraines than men. This is probably due to hormonal changes associated with menstruation.
  • Changes in brain chemistry
Experts think that the brains of people with migraines may have abnormal changes in the levels of substances produced by the brain.
  • Age

If you’re going to experience migraines during your lifetime, chances are that you might have your first severe headache during adolescence.

Environmental triggers

If you’re already predisposed to getting migraines, there are many different triggers that can cause you to actually get them. Although you can’t do anything about the risk factors listed above, you can take steps to learn about and control your triggers.

Keeping a diary of your symptoms with details about what’s going on in your life on that particular day can be a helpful tool toward determining your particular triggers.

Common triggers include the following:

  • Foods

Processed foods and aged cheeses cause problems for some people. Monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is frequently used as a flavor enhancer, can also be a trigger.

  • Drinks
Alcohol or drinks with too much caffeine or aspartame can also set off a migraine. Alternatively, if you’re used to having a certain amount of caffeine in a day, a sudden, drastic reduction can be migraine-inducing
  • Sleep
Too little or too much sleep can trigger a migraine, so it’s best to keep normal sleep habits that ensure you get the right amount of sleep every night.
  • Poor posture

Poor posture can cause your neck and shoulders to become tense which can lead to a migraine.

  • Sensory stimuli
Bright lights – including flickering computer or TV screens – can trigger migraines in some people. So can loud sounds and smoky rooms and other strong odors such as perfume.
  • Medication
Medication, including oral contraceptives and overuse of headache medication, can trigger or worsen migraines.
  • Medical conditions
Several medical conditions, including epilepsy and high blood pressure, may be associated with migraines.

Sometimes you won’t be able to determine a specific cause of your migraines, but with careful observation you can often learn – and control – what sometimes triggers them.