Migraines - Treatment

If you suffer with migraine your not alone, 190,000 people suffer with a migraine everyday in the UK. A Migraine tends to feel different from a headache, they are characterised by an intense throbbing sensation. Some people will struggle with a migraine for a few hours; others need to go away to bed to sleep it off.

Migraine headaches are caused by restriction of the blood supply to the brain, as a result parts of the brain can lack oxygen. The lack of oxygen creates an “aura”, for most migraine suffers this results in visual disturbances, double vision, flashing lights, wavy lines almost like a dream appearance. The aura can cause many other symptoms, such as nausea, dizziness, and weakness in different parts of the body.



The restriction of blood supply to the brain is caused by constriction of the blood vessels. Some people don’t suffer the ‘classic’ aura type symptoms, but because of the restriction of blood to the brain they become aware that ‘something isn't right’ and can tell an episode is imminent.

Lack of oxygen in the brain results in a sudden and rapid increase in blood pressure inside the head, this is the bodies way of counteracting the hypoxia. This increase in pressure leads to the pounding/throbbing headache. Every beat of the heart feels like a shock wave hammering through the skull.

Unfortunately ladies you are more likely to suffer with migraines, most having their first attack before age 30. There are some studies suggests that migraines run in families. Most people who suffer with migraines have an idea of what triggers them, and try to avoid these things. Migraine episodes can be several times a month or less often even going years between attacks. Fortunately most people find that migraine attacks occur less frequently and become less severe as they get older.

There are many theories about why the blood vessels constrict in the first place, but no one knows for sure. What we do know is that there are a number of things that can trigger migraines, such as lack of sleep, stress, flickering lights, strong odours, changing weather patterns and several foods; especially foods that are high in an amino acid called tyramine, should be avoided. Tyramine is found in food such as ripened cheeses (cheddar, brie), chocolate, as well as any food pickled or fermented foods.

Avoiding Headache Triggers

  • ​Stress may be a trigger, but certain foods, odours, menstrual periods, and changes in weather are among many factors that may also trigger headache.
  • Emotional factors such as depression, anxiety, frustration, letdown, and even pleasant excitement may be associated with developing a headache.
  • Keeping a headache diary will help you determine whether factors such as food, change in weather, and/or mood have any relationship to your headache pattern. Repeated exposure to nitrite compounds can result in a dull, pounding headache that may be accompanied by a flushed face. Nitrite, which dilates blood vessels, is found in such products as chemicals used to preserve meat. Hot dogs and other processed meats containing sodium nitrite can cause headaches.
  • Eating foods prepared with monosodium glutamate (MSG) can result in headache. Soy sauce, meat tenderiser, and a variety of packaged foods contain this chemical which is touted as a flavor enhancer.
  • Headache can also result from exposure to poisons, even common household varieties like insecticides, carbon tetrachloride, and lead. Children who ingest flakes of lead paint may develop headaches. So may anyone who has contact with lead batteries or lead-glazed pottery.
  • Foods that are high in the amino acid tyramine should also be avoided, such as ripened cheeses (cheddar, brie), chocolate, as well as any food pickled or fermented foods.

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