Migraine headaches sufferers know the difference between a ‘headache’ and a ‘migraine’. Over 2 million people in Australia suffer from headaches. (1) Migraines headaches are worse than tension type headaches and the following classification can help you find out if you suffer from headaches.

1. Headache to include at least 2 of these symptoms pain on one side

  • moderate to severe pain
  • throbbing in nature
  • worsened by movement
  • 2. Headache to include at least 1 of these symptoms
  • vomiting
  • sensitivity to light
  • sensitivity to noise
  • nausea

3. Headache to last between 4 to 72 hours

Migraine sufferers are normally put to be with a severe case and often find that they need to get away from the lights and noise of daily life, ending up locking themselves in a dark room. Days are lost – a big disruption to their lives.

As if the migraine headache is not enough, they can also suffer with some of the following:

  • pins and needles, numbness on one side of the body
  • slurred speech
  • aura – visual disturbance that can include flashing lights, blind spots or lines in their visual field (a concentration issues

Many migraine sufferers know when a migraine is about to rear its ugly head. Some feel unwell or have visual disturbances called an ‘aura’. The reason why migraines occur is not clear. Researches regard it as neurovasular basis – involving the nerves and blood vessels in the brain. One of the chemicals that is generally low in migraine sufferers is serotonin. The interesting thing is that the amino acid required to make serotonin is tryptophan is what many of the ‘trigger’ foods contain. Many ‘triggers’ are known that can set a migraine off, but each sufferer will have their individual trigger or set off triggers. It’s not just certain foods that are to blame, there are many more triggers. Many times it is a combination of a few factors that will set off a migraine.

Here are some other triggers:
Hormonal
Not surprising that women are 3 times more likely to suffer from migraines than men.

  • menstruation
  • ovulation
  • hormonal replacement therapy (HRT)
  • menopause
  • pregnancy, however can improve migraine in the last 2 trimesters
  • contraceptive pill

Environmental

  • allergens
  • loud noises
  • cinema screens
  • bright lights, especially if flickering computers
  • weather changes strong odours

Emotional & Physical

  • changes of sleep pattern
  • stress
  • tension colds/flu and other illness neck
  • back pain
  • stiff neck and shoulder muscles

Foods

  • chocolate
  • coffee
  • wine, beer, spirits
  • aged cheese MSG
  • food preservatives, eg nitrates
  • aspartame and other artificial sweeteners eggs
  • turkey
  • tofu

What can you do to find out what your possible triggers are?

We suggest to our practice members to keep a food and headache diary. Include when and what you have eaten and also activities around food, such as exercising. Sometimes it may be a combination of a few factors that may trigger the migraine headache.

  • Low Minerals & Vitamins iron
  • B6 B12
  • omega 6
  • Vitamin D
  • magnesium

Foods containing magnesium green leafy vegetables

  • nuts & seeds
  • seafood
  • legumes

(1)https://headacheaustralia.org.au/