Migraine is a disorder that generally involves recurring headaches. Other symptoms may occur with the headaches. Migraines are often classified based on whether they include an early symptom called an aura. Most migraines do not have this aura stage.
Headache Migraine Migraine with aura
Migraine - common; Headache - migraine without aura
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Migraine headaches affect about 11 out of 100 people. They are a common type of chronic, recurring headache. They most commonly occur in women and usually begin between the ages of 10 and 46. In some cases, they appear to run in families.
A migraine is caused by abnormal brain activity, which is triggered by stress, food, or some other factor. The exact chain of events is not known. However, it seems to involve various nerve pathways and chemicals in the brain. These changes affect the flow of blood in the brain and surrounding membranes.
Migraine attacks may be triggered by:
- Bright lights and loud noises
- Relaxation after a period of physical or mental stress
- Prolonged muscle tension (or
- Lack of sleep
- Smoking or exposure to tobacco smoke
- Missed meals
- Specific foods
- Alcohol use and caffeine
- Menstrual periods
- Use of oral contraceptives (birth control pills)
- Other conditions
Foods that have been associated with migraine in some people include those containing the amino acid tyramine (red wine, aged cheese, smoked fish, chicken livers, figs, some beans), chocolates, nuts, peanut butter, fruits (avocado, banana, citrus fruit), onions, dairy products, baked goods, meats containing nitrates (bacon, hot dogs, salami, cured meats), foods containing monosodium glutamate (an additive in many foods), and any processed, fermented, pickled, or marinated foods.
Review Date: 11/21/2006
Reviewed By: Daniel Kantor, M.D., Director of the Comprehensive MS Center, Neuroscience Institute, University of Florida Health Science Center, Jacksonville, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.