Why migraine headaches occur

If you’ve ever suffered a migraine, you’ve endured one of the most unpleasant maladies a human can experience. And if you’re asking yourself if you’ve ever experienced a migraine, the answer is probably no, because when you’ve experienced a migraine, there is absolutely no mistaking that it was a migraine. Much worse than a “bad headache” or even a “terrible headache”, migraines almost always lead to vomiting, sleeplessness, and pulsating pain usually behind the eye socket, or around the temple. If you’ve vomited because of a headache, then that means you’ve had a migraine. The trouble with migraines, though, is we don’t quite know why migraine headaches occur.

What is a migraine

According to WebMd, a migraine headache is:

“A strong headache that often comes with nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light. It can last hours or days.”


Symptoms prior to the onset of a migraine

Migraine headaches can manifest in different ways. Some people report seeing an aura prior to the onset of a migraine, while others experience a loss of appetite, tingling/numbness, or heavy arms/legs.

For most, though, the migraine simply begins as a dull ache that grows and grows until it is a throbbing headache.

Symptoms during the migraine headache

Once the migraine has progressed to a throbbing headache, any hope for relief by medication is pretty much lost. At this point, the quickest way to relief is to let the headache run its course. If you can find a way to sleep, this will help immensely. Also, if you end up vomiting, this can help, too. Once people vomit, their headache begins to turn the corner and sleep is usually within the realm of possibility. This can be aided with a sleeping pill. Benadryl is a popular aid.

When you have a migraine headache, avoid lights and strong smells. Find the darkest room in the house and seclude yourself from all conversation. Don’t look at your phone, because the screen will only make your headache worse.

Avoid eating greasy foods, and if you are nauseous, you’ll likely want to avoid all food entirely.

For temporary relief, run a hot shower and just stand in it with the lights to the bathroom turned off. Massage the back of your neck to help alleviate tension.

Nobody really knows why migraines occur

When it comes to defining exactly why migraines occur, the jury is still out. Pinning down exactly what “triggers” a migraine is difficult and varies by person. Common migraine triggers include: caffeine, stress, dehydration, aged cheese, physical activity including sex, tobacco, and more! You can already see why it’s difficult to determine exact causes of migraines.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the cause of migraines is likely much more complicated than any trigger can explain. The Mayo Clinic dives deep into the neurological reasons behind a migraine suggesting that changes in the brainstem and/or imbalances in brain chemicals might be involved.


Regardless of what causes a migraine, the fact that migraines are an awful experience will never go away. One of the keys to helping manage the pain of a migraine is knowing when a migraine is beginning to manifest in your body. If you’re able to catch it early enough, there are many medications that exist which are a tremendous help.

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