How Do Migraines Actually Work?

How Do They Affect Your Brain?

A pounding headache, vision problems, light sensitivity, and disrupted sleep are all common issues of a migraine. If you have experienced one or more before, you know how it’s a massive hindrance to your life. So how do migraines actually work?

Most people associate migraines with headaches, but they are entirely different things. A headache is only one of the symptoms of a migraine, so it does not fully encapsulate the idea of what a migraine is. Some migraines don’t even involve a headache.

So what is a migraine and how does it affect your brain?

Migraines have a variety of symptoms that all point back to the hypothalamus. This part of your brain is like the control center of all the systems in your body. 

During the days leading up to a migraine, this part of your brain is more active than normal. Because of the critical role that this area of the brain plays, it has the potential to affect a lot of areas in your body negatively. 

The migraine symptoms begin with a change in the cellular charge in your brain. This leads to a domino effect of changes in your brain that eventually change your blood flow. This change can spread across multiple areas of the brain, affecting your vision and nerves. 

One specific nerve in your brain is responsible for touch, temperature, and many other sensations. Once the migraine activates this nerve, it sends pain signals to the body. This is why things that shouldn’t hurt, such as light or performing everyday activities, often hurt during a migraine. 

Migraines affect many aspects of your body. If you begin to experience vision changes, tingling, trouble speaking, or a significantly greater thirst than usual, this may be your brain warning you that a migraine is coming.

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