Causes and Symptoms


A migraine is a painful and often times disabling headache. Underlying causes of migraines are unknown mainly because primary headaches, such as migraines, are idiopathic in nature (spontaneously arise without any obvious cause). It is highly likely that your migraine is a result of complex interactions between various risk factors of genetic, developmental, and environmental origins. Genetics play a role in almost half of all migraine cases and they are considered conditions that result from brain function problems rather than brain structure problems. Although it is rare to find a clear cause of migraine via tests and scans, triggers can make an attack more likely on any given day. Some known triggers are:

  • Alcohol
  • Weather changes
  • Lack of sleep
  • Schedule changes
  • Dehydration
  • Hunger
  • Certain foods
  • Strong smells
  • Teeth grinding at night
  • Menstruation


Migraine pain intensity is moderate to severe and can be felt all over the head, neck, and face (although generally resides on one side of the head). Pain is often characterized by pounding or throbbing sensations. Migraines are typically associated with light, noise, and smell sensitivity with nausea being one of the most common symptoms. One-fourth of migraine patients experience aura or sensory warnings that precede the migraine attack. Common auras include visual disturbances, vertigo, numbness, confusion, and difficulty speaking.

*For more information see our migraines explained tab.

Causes and Symptoms:

Genetic factors and environmental surroundings could play a role in causing migraines.
Migraine headaches often begin in childhood through early adulthood.
The onset of a migraine can be caused by changes in interaction between the brainstem and pain pathways (such as the trigeminal nerve).
Chemical imbalances in the brain lead to drops in serotonin (chemical which helps regulate pain).
Low levels of serotonin are subsequently overpowered by neuropeptides sent to the outer part of the brain resulting in a headache.

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    Migraine attack symptoms:

  • Pain on one side of your head
  • Pulsating, throbbing pain
  • Sensitivity to light, sounds, and even smells
  • Nausea and vomiting

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