What Causes Migraines?

added on: June 11, 2020

man with migraineThere’s a medical condition that affects over 39 million Americans. It has no known cause, no known cure, and treatment can vary in success from person to person. We’re talking about migraines and for a good reason. June is National Migraine & Headache Awareness Month, a time for medical professionals, including your dentist in Rocky Mount, to come together and raise awareness about this very real, often debilitating, and always frustrating condition. 

Do You Have a Migraine or a Headache?

There are a lot of commonalities between migraines and headaches — both of which can be painful, sometimes extremely so. However, there are also several differences between migraines and headaches, and knowing the symptoms of each can help you identify whether you have a migraine or a headache and guide into treating it effectively. 

Headaches vs. Migraines

Headaches Migraines
  • Pain typically affects the entire head
  • Pain tends to affect one side of the head, although not always
  • Pain doesn’t get worse with activity
  • Pain increases in intensity when doing anything physical 
  • Pain usually feels like there’s constant pressure in your head 
  • Pain appears as more of a throbbing sensation than pressure
  • There are no other symptoms in other areas of the body
  • May also experience nausea, sensitivity to light or sound, blurry vision, and visual auras such as blind spots, lines, or glowing patches

What Causes Migraines?

Unfortunately, there is no known cause of migraines. That’s one reason why this neurological condition can be so frustrating and equally difficult to treat. There are several theories as to what may cause or trigger migraines, but it appears that they may differ from person to person. Some commonly supported cause or triggers of migraines include: 

  • Stress and a surge in serotonin
  • Hormones, particularly in women
  • Certain foods or skipping meals
  • Drinks such as alcohol or caffeine
  • Weather
  • Not enough sleep

Another area of interest to researchers as well as your dentist, in Rocky Mount, is the jaw and, specifically, the bite.

A Bad Bite & Migraines

Again, it’s worth noting that no one thing causes migraines, and everybody’s situation is unique. However, recent research has suggested a possible connection between a bad bite and migraines. You see, your jaw muscles are directly impacted by your bite, and when you have a poor, it can place constant, unnecessary stress on the muscles and cause pain. Additionally, since the jaw is so close to the head and actually shares several muscle groups as well as some large nerves, this pain can also be translated into the head and neck. The result may just be an intense headache or even a full-blown migraine. Studies also suggest that chronically clenching or grinding your teeth has a similar effect on jaw muscles and may also increase the risk of migraines. 

Even though migraines are incredibly painful and may even inhibit someone’s ability to get out of bed, there are treatments available. Migraine research continues to expand which results in better, more effective medications and treatments. The best way to find out what may be causing your migraines and find the best treatment for you is to talk with both your primary care doctor and your dentist in Rocky Mount.