Causes of Chronic Migraine

A migraine is a type of a headache with still unknown cause(s). Besides pain, migraine is characterized by nausea, vomiting, photosensitivity, sensitivity to sounds and smell. A typical migraine can last up to two days. However, a chronic migraine episode may last up to fifteen days. The pain is often described as pulsating and localized on one side of the head, and it gets worse during physical activity.

A person with a migraine tends to spend the pain episode alone, lying on a bed, in a dark room, without noise.

Characteristic of migraines is a phenomenon called aura which includes warning signs such as tingling of face, leg or arm, blind spots, or flashes of light.

Migraine; image source:

Prodrome occurs even before aura to prepare a person for an attack. It includes food cravings, yawning, frequent urination, thirst, constipation and mood changes.

A period after the migraine attack is called post-drome. It lasts 24 hours and includes confusion, fatigue, sensitivity to sound and light, and mood changes.

What are Potential Migraine Causes?

Some of the potential migraine causes include:

  • Imbalance of brain chemicals especially serotonin
  • Abnormalities of a trigeminal nerve
  • The underlying pathology of blood vessels
  • Central nervous system disorder

Scientists studied possible causes of migraine on a brain freeze example. This phenomenon is triggered by constriction of blood vessels because of the cold stimulus (ice cream or a cold beverage).

What Can Trigger a Migraine?

Some situations may act as migraine triggers. However, these should not be confused for causes of the disorder. Factors that can trigger a migraine attack are:

  • Salty food
  • Skipping meals
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Food preservatives
  • Hormonal changes
  • Sensory stimulation (bright lights or loud noise)
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Bad posture
  • Physical exercise
  • Medications
  • Disruption of a sleep routine
  • Weather changes

Risk Factors

Some people are at greater risk of suffering from migraines. The first migraine attack usually occurs during adolescence, and more often affects boys than girls. However, later in life, women are more prone to migraines than men.

Also, if a close relative has problems with this type of headache, you are at higher risk than people without the family history.

Migraine Treatment

If you suffer from migraine attacks contact your doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Migraine therapy includes two types of medication—pain relievers and preventive medications. The first ones are taken only when headache occurs, and the second ones are taken regularly to ease the symptoms.

Migraine treatment also includes certain lifestyle changes such as meditation, mindfulness, acupuncture, massage, and vitamin B12 intake.


Migraine is a serious neurological condition that shouldn’t be taken lightly – it greatly affects person’s ability to perform their usual everyday tasks. During a headache episode, the individual often spends time in a dark room without disturbances.

What causes migraines is still a mystery. However, some situations or substances are known to trigger a migraine episode; these are stress, anxiety, caffeine, alcohol, salty food, etc. among others. If you’ve experienced your first migraine episode contact your physician. If left untreated, migraines can cause depression, psychological issues, and insomnia.


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