Migraine Headaches: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


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Join Airrosti providers Stephen Offenburger, DC, and Tom Danisiewicz, DC, as they discuss the causes and symptoms of migraines. They also reveal key differences between migraines and other types of headaches. Finally, our providers explain how Airrosti addresses these conditions and can help you find the right treatment to help eliminate or significantly reduce the pain.

What are Migraines?

A migraine is a common type of headache that can cause throbbing, intense pain on one or both sides of the head. It is often accompanied by other neurological symptoms like nausea and sensitivity to certain lights, sounds, or smells.

According to the American Migraine Foundation, migraines affect over thirty-nine million Americans.

Guy at a desk next to a laptop holding his head.

Migraine Causes

What exactly causes migraines to occur is unknown and varies by individual. While environmental and genetic factors do play a role in understanding where migraines come from, they do not paint the whole picture for all migraine sufferers.

Migraine Triggers

Individual triggers for migraines may vary by individual and the type of migraine they are experiencing. The most common triggers include:

  • Changes in sleep schedule
  • Hormonal changes
  • Stress
  • Certain lights or sounds
  • Medications
  • Weather changes
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Dehydration
  • Certain foods or additives
Stressed woman sitting on couch holding her head while people run in front of her

Migraine Symptoms

The most well-known sign of a migraine is a throbbing headache that can last for hours to days. However, severe head pain is not the only symptom. Typically, a migraine progresses through four stages and can last anywhere from hours to days at a time.

Four Migraine Stages

Prodrome. This is the first stage that may appear 1-2 days before the migraine attack. Within this stage, “warning symptoms” such as nausea, irritability, depression, brain fog, and sleeping issues may appear.

Aura. In the few minutes to an hour leading up to a migraine attack, you may notice an “aura” that can cause visual and other nervous system disturbances, like bright lights, flashing lights, tingling sensations, or weakness. You may also experience blind spots or light and sound sensitivity.

*While most people suffer from migraines with an aura, there are cases where a migraine may occur without an aura.

Attack. The third stage, also known as the “headache” phase, is where the migraine starts to cause pain. Migraine attacks can cause headaches on either one or both sides of the head. The pain may also shift from one side of the head to the other over the course of the attack.

*Sometimes the aura and attack stages occur at the same time, compounding the symptoms and aggravating the person experiencing the migraine.

Post-drome. The fourth stage occurs after the migraine is over. While it does not occur in all migraine sufferers, most people struggle with postdrome for 24-48 hours. You may experience fatigue, body aches, sensitivity to light, dizziness, and trouble concentrating.

Woman with Migraine

Migraine Treatment Options

Treatments for migraines will depend on the type of migraine and identifiable triggers associated with the migraine. Your doctor will examine your medical history and may recommend a variety of tests to help rule out other conditions.

Familiar treatments for migraines include pain-relieving and preventative medication. Your doctor may also recommend lifestyle changes that can help you avoid migraines in the future.

Preventing Migraines

Because migraines can be influenced by so many factors, there are no solutions guaranteed to cure or prevent your migraines. Understanding what your migraine triggers are will help make avoiding them a little easier.

Preventing migraines from occurring may seem like an uphill battle, but there are things you can do in your daily life to help make migraines less frequent and less severe. Daily habits that may reduce the frequency and severity of migraines include:

  • Eating regular meals
  • Exercising regularly
  • Using preventative medications
  • Sleeping on a consistent schedule
  • Introducing lifestyle changes that reduce stress

Migraines vs Other Types of Headaches

The term “migraine” is often used interchangeably with the more general term “headache,” especially when that headache is severe. This can confuse people who think they are struggling with migraines, when in fact they may be dealing with tension-type headaches.

Understanding the difference between a true migraine and other common types of headaches is crucial to finding proper treatment options that will work to relieve the pain.

How Airrosti Can Help: Chronic Headache and Migraine Treatment

If you’re struggling with chronic headaches, talk to an Airrosti provider today.

Our providers can help you understand what may be causing your headaches and walk you through treatment options that can help eliminate or manage the pain.

Unlike treatments that only focus on the symptoms, Airrosti providers aim to treat pain at its source. During your one-on-one appointment, your provider will conduct a thorough evaluation to pinpoint the true cause of your pain. They’ll also develop a customized treatment plan to help address pain at the source. Airrosti treatment can effectively resolve most tension headaches in an average of three visits, based on patient-reported outcomes.

We offer in-office and telehealth appointments to best suit your needs. Call us at (800) 404-6050 to schedule your appointment today! 

Read our Medical Disclaimer here.

Reviewed by Casey Crisp, Doctor of Chiropractic

Disclaimer: Always consult with your doctor before starting any exercise program. If you experience any numbness, tingling or reproduction of your symptoms, please contact your doctor.

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