Does light sensitivity trigger migraine attacks, or is it the other way around? Here’s the scoop on the latest research on migraine attacks, with and without aura.
According to a new study on migraine triggers, scientists have found that not all triggers are as powerful as we think; warning migraine patients not to jump the gun on migraine trigger avoidance when it comes to things like exercise and indoor lighting.
Migraine triggers that aren’t
In the study, which was published by Neurology, scientists examined 27 patients of migraines with aura, all of which have previously attributed bright lights and strenuous exercise with triggering severe migraine attacks.
- Scientists exposed each participant to “migraine triggers” such as exercise, bright flickering lights, or a combination of both, in an effort to see if they would experience a migraine attack.
- Migraine patients who were told to exercise either ran or pedaled on an exercise bike for 1 hour, exceeding their maximum pulse rate by 80%.
- Participants were also told to look at a series of bright, flashing lights for 30-40 minutes.
- After 3 hours, 11% of migraine patients experienced a migraine with aura.
- Another 11% developed a migraine headache without aura.
- Most interestingly, none of the study participants suffered a migraine attack as a result of light exposure alone.
What causes migraine attacks?
Migraine headaches are a genetic neurological illness that causes crushing, excruciatingly painful headaches that can take anywhere from several hours or days to disappear.
In addition, migraine attacks inflict symptoms such as severe nausea, uncontrollable vomiting, fatigue, and dizziness in its patients.
Migraines with aura include an extra phase which occurs previous to the migraine headache. Stroke-like symptoms such as strange visual disturbances, vertigo, disorientation, sudden speech slurring, partial paralysis, and sometimes loss of consciousness can strike minutes before debilitating head pain.
Migraines with aura patients are at a higher risk for heart attack and stroke than patients who don’t receive the premonitory aura, according to research.
Although scientists know that migraines occur as a result of a nervous system malfunctioning, they do not know enough about the exact cause to be able to find a “migraine cure.”
By keeping a migraine diary, you can effectively find out exactly which migraine triggers in food or your environment are the real culprits here.
“Our study suggests that if a person is exposed to a suspected trigger for three months and does not have a migraine attack, they no longer have to worry about avoiding that trigger,” says study author Jes Olesen, MD.
What can we learn here?
Scientists theorize that rather than triggering migraine attacks, extreme light sensitivity and eye pain may occur in the earliest stages of a migraine, as a symptom of the migraine attack itself, and not as a migraine trigger.
So if you’ve been avoiding things like indoor lighting, you be causing yourself unnecessary stress.
More so, if you’ve been excluding moderate exercise from your daily routine as a means of trigger avoidance, then you may be causing yourself unnecessary harm.
“People with migraine with aura are told to avoid possible triggers, which may lead them to avoid a wide range of suspected factors,” says Olesen. “Yet the most commonly reported triggers are stress, bright light, emotional influences and physical effort, which can be difficult to avoid and potentially detrimental, if people avoid all physical activity.”
In addition to avoiding migraine triggers in food, health experts also recommend daily exercise, meditation, and vitamin supplementation as a natural means of managing migraines.
Which migraine triggers do you actively avoid?
Are there any migraine triggers that you’re uncertain about?
Do you have any questions or suggestions? Please leave your comments below.
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Like this? Read more:
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Migraine Triggers Not As Powerful As We Think
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