What is a Migraine? What Causes Migraines?

If you have ever had a migraine then you know how excruciating they can be.  In college I use to get debilitating migraines all the time until I finally went off birth control and then they mostly stopped.  Throughout the years migraines would come and go but there didn’t seem to be any type of pattern to explain why.  Being gluten free has almost eliminated them all together for me and now the only time I get one is when I am dehydrated.

Migraines can be brought on by numerous things and it is hard to really pinpoint the exact reason except through trial and error of cutting things out and being aware of when you get them and what possibly could have been the culprit.

Here is a great article by MedicalNewsToday.com

What are migraine headaches?

Migraine headaches result from a combination of blood vessel enlargement and the release of chemicals from nerve fibers that coil around these blood vessels.

During the headache, an artery enlarges that is located on the outside of the skull just under the skin of the temple (temporal artery). This causes a release of chemicals that cause inflammation, pain, and further enlargement of the artery.

Lady holding head in pain
Migraine headaches can be very debilitating.

A migraine headache causes the sympathetic nervous system to respond with feelings of nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. This response also delays the emptying of the stomach into the small intestine (affecting food absorption), decreases blood circulation (leading to cold hands and feet), and increases sensitivity to light and sound.

According to the National Library of Medicine1, approximately 12% of Americans get migraine headaches. Females are much more likely to get them than males.

The National Headache Foundation5 (Foundation) says that over 37 million people in the United States suffer from migraine. It is a vascular headache which tends to affect people between 15 and 55 years of age. Approximately three-quarters of all migraine sufferers have a family history of migraine.

The Foundation adds that fewer than half of all migraine sufferers have been properly diagnosed by their healthcare provider. Migraine is commonly misdiagnosed as tension-type headache or sinus headache.

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About Kirsten Berman GlutenFreeGal

GlutenFreeGal living with Celiac Disease and Changing the American Food System
one person at a time


  1. This was really helpful!



  1. […] What is a Migraine? What Causes Migraines? (glutenfreegal.com) […]


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