It is difficult to pin point what might be the real reason for migraine as certain studies in the past have believed that due to a particular type of blood vessels in the head, migraine is caused. Recent studies have come up with the theory that the constriction of blood vessels is the reason behind the pain but migraine is a result of the central nervous system disorder. It is still unclear if the chemical and physical events that occur around and inside the head cause migraine. There is a trigeminal nerve that controls the face and head sensation. There are certain reactions which are biochemical in nature that result in inflammation and overexcitement of these nerves. Now this reaction reaches the other part of the brain- the meninges which is a membrane that protects the brain. This leads to other symptoms of migraine. Following are the factors that are thought of as causing migraines-
Fluctuating hormones in women especially due to estrogen.
If the magnesium level is low in the body then it leads to migraine.
If the calcium ions are transported in an abnormal way by the cells. These ions are important for transmitting nerve signals.
If the maxillary nerve is inflamed. This nerve controls the nose and the mouth sensation and runs behind the cheek bone.
When the serotonin levels are low then it causes migraine as this neurotransmitter controls appetite, mood and sleep.
Overactive neurons release nitric oxide that leads to dilation of blood vessels.
Neuropeptides cause pain receptors to start working and they trigger off inflammation.
There are several other factors that result in migraine. These are-
Strong smells like perfume, air freshener or cologne.
Loud sounds can trigger off a headache.
Dehydration can cause migraine as well as change in food habits.
Changes in sleep pattern have been found to cause severe headaches.
Bright light like the one that comes out of a movie screen or to step out in the sun without sunglasses can trigger off headaches.
Heavy exercise or even when heavy objects are lifted or indulging in sexual activity can trigger off migraines.
Changes in the hormones in women is seen as one of the causes. This can be due to menstruation or due to menopause or the hormonal replacement therapy that is taken during menopause; it can also be due to taking of birth control pills.
Changes in weather conditions be it humidity or change in temperature or even barometric pressure is seen as a reason for migraines.
Certain kinds of chemicals and foods have been seen as causes of migraine and a few of them are – processed meats like cold cuts or hotdogs, alcohol, monosodium glutamate, chocolate, nuts, aspartame and high levels of caffeine.
If the emotional stress levels change then it can trigger off a migraine. If there is an increased stress at work or at home then it results in migraine and similarly if there is a reduction of stress levels like going off on a vacation or finishing an important project then that can also cause migraine attacks.