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What Causes Migraines Still a Mystery

An estimated  29.5 million people in the U.S. experience migraines.  They can occur with or without visual disturbances and often include head pain, nausea, and light/sound sensitivity.  According to the National Headache Foundation, they are more common in women.  They can be extremely debilitating, cause disruptions in our daily lives, and, as it turns out, are still somewhat of a mystery.

New research from Wake Forest Medical Center shows that we may not have an accurate understanding of what causes our migraines.  Although understanding what triggers our headaches would be extremely helpful for being able to manage them, there may be too many variables to actually determine the causes.  Things such as diet, weather, sleep, and physical activity can fluctuate quite regularly in our lives.  The result, according to assistant professor of anesthesia and neurology Timothy T. Houle, is that the actual origins of our migraines can remain aloof.

The researchers published two studies on migraines in the journal Headache.  One study came to the conclusion that in order to really identify the cause of a migraine, the normal ways we determine a supposed trigger are not enough.  In an effort to establish a more formal process for analyzing migraines, the researchers concluded that there must be at least three criteria before something can be identified as a migraine trigger:  the “constancy of the sufferer”, the “constancy of the trigger effect”, and the “constancy of the trigger presentation”.  If any of the three criteria are lacking, our theory as to the cause will be murky at best.

Another study examined nine female subjects who kept diaries for three months.  Even with detailed information about stressors and hormone levels, researchers were unable to pinpoint the triggers.  This goes to show that the science of migraines needs to be further developed if we are ever going to more fully understand the causal factors.

Read the full article here:  Migraine Triggers May Not Be As Clear-Cut As We Think, Study Finds