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What Causes a Migraine?

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3 Minutes

Migraines are a common health condition usually characterised as a severe headache. They are more prevalent among women (1 in 5 women experience migraines) than men (1 in 15 men suffer from migraines).

So, what causes migraines? In this blog post, we will outline some of the most common causes of migraines as well as provide you with a way to treat them.

The Different Types Of Migraine

Migraines can be classified into at least three major types:

  • Migraine with aura - a type of migraine where you usually see flashing lights before it begins.
  • Migraine without aura - this type of migraine comes without any warnings. This is the most common type.
  • Silent migraine - this kind of migraine has the typical symptoms of a migraine minus the headache.

Migraines come and go. Some people experience them several times a week while others pass months or years before another episode.

How Do I Know It’s A Migraine?

Most migraine symptoms appear one to two days before it develops fully. This phase is known as the prodrome stage. Some symptoms of a migraine during this period include:

  • Low mood
  • Neck stiffness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Food cravings
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • If you have a migraine with aura, the flashing lights occur after the prodrome stage. During the aura, you may experience other symptoms such as:
  • Vision problems
  • Difficulty speaking clearly
  • A tingling or prickling feeling in your legs, arms, or face

After these “warning” stages, the migraine may come in full force. It is during this period where you experience the actual migraine pain (headache) that you are so familiar with. You will know it’s a migraine if you experience a headache that is:

  • Throbbing
  • Debilitating
  • Pounding
  • Pulsating
  • Perforating

Migraines can also feel like a dull, steady headache. For others, it starts out mild and becomes more severe over time especially if no migraine relief treatment is taken.

What Causes Migraines?

The real cause of migraines is still a mystery for doctors. Some studies show that it’s caused by a chemical called serotonin. This chemical is responsible for shrinking (high level of serotonin) or swelling (low levels of serotonin) the blood vessels. The swelling of blood vessels in the brain can cause pain and other problems.

With that said, age, environment, sex, family history, diet, stress, and lifestyle may all contribute in one way or another to a migraine.

What Food Can Cause Migraines?

Certain foods and beverages may cause migraines. Below is an exhaustive list:

  • aged, canned, cured, or processed meat (including bologna, game, ham, herring, hot dogs, pepperoni, and sausage)
  • aged cheese
  • alcoholic beverages (especially red wine)
  • aspartame
  • avocados
  • beans (including pole, broad, lima, Italian, navy, pinto, and garbanzo)
  • brewer’s yeast (including fresh yeast coffee cake, doughnuts, and sourdough bread)
  • caffeine (in excess)
  • canned soup or bouillon cubes
  • chocolate, cocoa, and carob
  • cultured dairy products (such as buttermilk and sour cream)
  • figs
  • lentils
  • meat tenderizer
  • monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • nuts and peanut butter
  • onions (except small amounts for flavouring)
  • papaya
  • passion fruit
  • pea pods
  • pickled, preserved or marinated foods (such as olives and pickles, and some snack foods)
  • raisins
  • red plums
  • sauerkraut
  • seasoned salt
  • snow peas
  • soy sauce

Migraine Relief

While there’s no current cure for migraines, there are treatments which help to relieve the symptoms. Some of the common migraine relief treatments available include:


This type of medication contains an active ingredient called Sumatriptan succinate. It actively works by relieving the temporary swelling of blood vessels in the brain, relieving the pressure and thus, the migraine pain you feel. You can buy Sumatriptan from Express Pharmacy and get it delivered to your doorstep in plenty of time before your next symptoms occur.

Imigran Nasal Spray

Imigran is one of the most common branded migraine treatments. Imigran Nasal Spray also contains Sumatriptan succinate as its active ingredient. This treatment provides fast-acting relief against migraines.

Compared to its tablet-counterpart, Imigran Nasal Spray offers a more pleasant form of application. It also reduces the risk of rebound headaches which is common among patients who rely on migraine relief tablets for a long time.