Prevention (Australia) - - Breakthrough Health - What causes mi­graine?

Mi­graine is more than just a bad headache – it’s a con­stel­la­tion of symp­toms in­clud­ing pain, nau­sea, vom­it­ing and vis­ual dis­tur­bances, that can last any­where from a few hours to sev­eral days.

“Mi­graines af­fect around 15 per cent of the Aus­tralian pop­u­la­tion, which is more than three mil­lion peo­ple,” says Ger­ald Ed­munds, sec­re­tary gen­eral of the Brain Foun­da­tion, which in­cor­po­rates Headache Australia. “Typ­i­cally the pain is fo­cused more on one side of the head and it in­ten­si­fies with ex­po­sure to things like light and sound, so dur­ing a mi­graine episode, many peo­ple find they need to re­tire to a quiet room with the cur­tains closed.”

The con­di­tion is the sixth­lead­ing cause of dis­abil­ity in the world, but its im­pacts go far beyond phys­i­cal health.

“Mi­graines can sub­stan­tially lower a per­son’s qual­ity of life caus­ing iso­la­tion, when peo­ple can’t at­tend so­cial events due to mi­graine, or fi­nan­cial losses, when peo­ple have to take a great num­ber of days off work,” Ed­munds says. “Ge­netic fac­tors can play a large role in mi­graine sus­cep­ti­bil­ity and in a per­son who is more vul­ner­a­ble to mi­graines there are many pos­si­ble trig­gers, in­clud­ing hor­monal fac­tors, diet, stress and sleep pat­terns,” Richard Stark of Monash Univer­sity says. “A hair-trig­ger ner­vous sys­tem can also be re­spon­si­ble for trig­ger­ing mi­graines,” Stark says. “This eas­ily ex­cited ner­vous sys­tem of­ten re­sponds to trig­gers that would not bother other peo­ple such as cer­tain per­fumes, odours and weather changes, stress, too lit­tle sleep and loud noise.” But cut­ting-edge treat­ments may ad­dress this hy­per­sen­si­tiv­ity.

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