A migraine headache is a moderate to severe headache, usually occurring on one side of the head only. It can last from several hours to three days, and is often accompanied by gastrointestinal problems such as nausea and vomiting. Other symptoms characteristic of migraines include pain that has a pulsating or throbbing quality, pain that worsens with physical activity, and sensitivity to light and sound.
Fifteen to thirty minutes before the migraine begins, some people experience an aura – a “warning” that comes in the form of sparkling flashes of light, dazzling zigzag lines, slowly spreading blink spots, tingling sensations in an arm or leg, or even speech problems. Although auras typically occur before the onset of a migraine, they sometimes continue after the headache starts or even occur after it begins.
Experts are still debating the cause and mechanism of the migraine headache. What is known is that migraines can have various triggers, including hormonal changes; the consumption of certain foods, such as aged cheese, wine, chocolate, fermented and marinated foods, and monosodium glutamate; stress; sensory stimuli such as bright lights and sun glare; changes in the sleep-wake cycle; changes in the weather; and the use of certain medications.
If you suffer from migraine headaches, it makes sense to avoid potential triggers. In addition, certain nutrients are known to help prevent the occurrence of migraines.