Is the pain and discomfort of severe migraine headaches making your life miserable? You’re in good company. More than one billion people across the globe struggle with migraines, including over 40 million people in the United States.
But while knowing you’re not alone when it comes to migraines may provide some measure of comfort, it doesn’t help you understand why you’re getting these headaches and what you can do to make them stop.
Board-certified radiologist Dr. Andrew Doe from Alate Health offers real relief for patients in Houston, Texas, struggling with severe and chronic migraine headaches: the revolutionary SphenoCath® SPG blocking procedure.
Dr. Doe also understands that our patients want to understand the possible causes of chronic migraine headaches. We’ve put our heads together to create this brief guide with information about migraine triggers and what you can do to find relief.
Understanding migraine headaches
The headache is only one symptom of migraines, though it’s usually the symptom that causes people pain and can disrupt your quality of life. Migraines have four stages, but you may not experience each stage with every migraine. Here’s an overview of the stages of a migraine:
- Premonitory or prodrome phase: Occurs before the migraine headache and may bring pain-free symptoms that indicate a migraine may be coming, such as neck pain; sensitivity to light/smell/sound; stomach upset; stomach/digestive issues; and mood changes
- Aura phase: You may experience sensory disturbances that impact your sense of sight (e.g., flashing or zig-zag lights), touch (e.g., numbness or tingling), or ability to speak/comprehend (e.g., slurred or jumbled words)
- Headache phase: The most troublesome phase with severe headache pain that may get worse when you move or experience light, sounds, or smells
- Post-drome phase: Once your headache clears, you may experience this final phase with fatigue, confusion, or a general malaise that may last for hours or days
Migraine headaches usually occur on only one side of the head, but some people experience pain on both sides.
Why people get migraines
While scientists haven’t found an exact cause, research has uncovered a link between migraines and temporary changes in the chemicals, nerves, and blood vessels in your brain. Medical researchers believe that these changes may trigger migraines. However, genetics may play a role since about half of people with chronic migraines have a close relative who experiences them, too.
Many different things can cause the chemical or physical change that triggers migraines. Here are some common triggers of migraine headaches:
- Hormonal changes in women
- Certain drinks (e.g., alcohol; caffeine)
- Sensory stimuli (e.g., bright or sunlight; loud noises; strong smells)
- Sleep changes (e.g., too much or too little sleep; jet lag from travel)
- Physical factors (e.g., sex; exercise)
- Weather changes
- Medications (e.g., oral birth control; vasodilators)
- Foods/eating patterns (e.g., salty and processed foods; skipping a meal; dehydration)
- Food additives (e.g., MSG; artificial sweeteners)
Everyone who experiences migraines has different triggers or tolerance levels to known triggers. By keeping track of triggers associated with your migraines, you can make lifestyle changes and work to stop the headaches before they start.
What if I keep getting migraine headaches?
If you’ve tried keeping track of your triggers and making changes to try to stop your headaches before they start but still suffer from severe, chronic migraines, the pain management team at Alate Health can help you find relief.
Dr. Doe and the team use the SphenoCath SPG blocking procedure, a minimally invasive treatment, to stop migraine pain at its source. This pain-free treatment is safe to use in children and adults and is performed right in our office. Here’s how it works:
You have what’s called a sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) nerve bundle inside your nasal cavity. Medical researchers have found that this nerve bundle is associated with migraine headaches. The SphenoCath device administers an anesthetic into your nasal cavity and the SPG nerve bundle.
The result? Relief from your migraine headaches that typically lasts 4-6 weeks. And with repeat treatments, you may experience longer-lasting relief so you can reclaim control of your life and say goodbye to the pain associated with migraines.
Learn more about why you keep getting migraine headaches and your treatment options by scheduling an appointment at one of the Houston, Texas, offices of Alate Health. Call us at 713-322-7537 or request an appointment online now.