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August 22, 2017

Going Mental: Migraine 101

A headache can make it hard to concentrate for a while, but, for most people, a couple of ibuprofen can usually remedy it. However, if you are suffering from a migraine, it can be outright debilitating. According to the American Migraine Association, 12% of the US population suffers from migraines.

That’s about 36 million Americans who experience migraines, and about two to three million of them struggle with chronic migraines. It sabotages their ability to perform their jobs, and for those in school, their ability to learn.

If you have been noticing any of the following symptoms surrounding your headaches, or those of your loved ones, it’s possible that it is due to migraine disorder:

  • Light sensitivity
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Vomiting
  • Seeing spots
  • Pain on one side of your head
  • Sound sensitivity

So, what is a migraine, who suffers from them and why? Here’s what you need to know:

Migraines are defined as “an inherited neurological disorder that is characterized by over-excitability of specific areas of the brain” (American Migraine Foundation). That sounds pretty scary, but what does it really mean? First, it simply means that some people are more susceptible to migraines than others and that an individual who suffers from migraines has a different biochemical brain make-up than those who don’t have the disorder. In addition, the disorder tends to run in families, which means you are more likely to have the disorder if other family members have it. There are also two different types of migraines, migraines with aura (visual disturbances) and migraines without aura. Usually, a migraine diagnosis happens when one has a combination of symptoms, and doctors have ruled out other possible disorders.

Unfortunately, when it comes to triggers, there are many to choose from. Here is a quick breakdown of the things that could be causing you, or someone you know, a great deal of pain:

Yes, all of that can lead to a person getting a migraine. Women are also more susceptible to migraines than men, as is apparent from the list of triggers. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, 18% of women and 7% of men are suffering from migraines in America.

Looking back at our list of possible triggers, you can see that some are genetic or things that are probably not going to change. However, there are some triggers that you can manipulate.

  • Caffeine: People tend to experience caffeine related migraines for one of two reasons- either they are consuming too much of it, or they go from high consumption to none instantly (causing withdrawals). The best thing for you to do is to limit yourself to less than 4 cups of coffee (or one Starbucks Grande) worth of caffeine each day. Gradually work your way down to this if you are consuming too much.

  • Screens: In today’s world, a lot of people’s jobs require them to sit in from of computer screens for hours on end. Then, once they do get a break or leave work for the day, they bounce from staring at their phones to the various other screens in their homes. To prevent triggering a migraine this way, take regular breaks, allowing your eyes to focus on something else, make sure the lighting is satisfactory (so that you’re not squinting) and look into anti-glare screens. Some time away from your phone and TV could do you some good too!


  • Food: It can be difficult to ensure that you are eating a healthy snack or meal each time you eat. Whether you sneak in a couple of cookies instead of having lunch or skip a meal altogether, you are risking triggering a migraine. To avoid getting yourself into one of these situations, make sure you always have healthy snacks in your home, consider meal prepping (this will also save you money) and eat small, nutritious snacks at regular intervals. In addition, avoid additives such as aspartame, nitrates and monosodium glutamate as best as you can as they have been linked to migraines too.

  • Food Allergies and Sensitivities: For some people, even eating healthy foods can trigger migraines if they suffer from sensitivities to those foods. While you can attempt an elimination diet, it isn’t the most accurate diagnostic tool. It is often easier and more accurate, to see a professional for a food sensitivity assessment.


  • Exercise: Yes, exercise is good for you, but sometimes jumping full throttle into an intensive regimen can do more harm than good. If you are just beginning your movement journey, start slow. It is best to ease yourself into it. When you get to the level where you are an exercise aficionado, you will find yourself feeling better and more energized!


  • Mild dehydration: Listen up! Those fizzy drinks you love so much do not hydrate you as well as water does, and they often contain aspartame. So, in addition to those fun drinks (consumed as little as possible), you should be drinking eight glasses of water a day.

  • Weather Changes: According to the Mayo Clinic, many people suffer from weather-related migraines. Their triggers include:
    • Bright sunlight
    • Extreme heat or cold
    • Sun glare
    • High humidity
    • Dry air
    • Windy or stormy weather
    • Barometric pressure changes

Although you can’t change the weather, you can get treated for many of these sensitivities.

  • Sleep: Both getting too much sleep and not getting enough sleep can trigger a migraine. If you notice that this is a trigger for you, try sticking to a sleep schedule. By going to bed and getting up at a particular time, you can reduce your chance of getting a migraine.


As you can see, migraine disorder is not simple. Even though each person might experience it in a different way, one thing is for sure: they are excruciating. Here at St. Louis Allergy Relief Center, we are dedicated to helping people treat their migraines through AAT so that they can go on leading a healthy and normal life.


Call Dr. Ian Wahl today for more information on migraines and how to get started on your healing journey!

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