How do migraines develop?

How do migraines develop?

How do migraines develop?

Migraine headaches are not constant, instead, an attack develops every now and then.

Migraine Generator
Why is this the case?

Scientists are still debating where in the brain a migraine attack develops. It is likely that there are multiple spots in the brain where a migraine attack can be triggered.

You can imagine the migraine generator as a battery that is charged by different factors. You can learn more about these below.

When the battery is full...

…it discharges itself abruptly and sends electrical signals to many parts of the brain. This makes nerve cells in the head and the sheaths around the brain (meninges) more sensitive. The blood vessels in the head react more strongly. When you move, climbing the stairs for example, your brain pulls on the meninges and more blood flows through the blood vessels. Normally, this doesn’t hurt. But when the meninges and blood vessels are more sensitive during a migraine attack, it causes a lot of pain.


Migraine headaches can be pretty intense. Even though they hurt, nothing in your head will actually get injured during a migraine attack. When the attack is over, everything will be the same as before.

What triggers a migraine attack?

A migraine attack can only occur in people who have a physical predisposition. Because the predisposition is passed on genetically, often several family members get migraines. If you have migraines, ask your grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts, and siblings if they experience similar headaches.

What causes a migraine attack is different for every person. Many things are believed to trigger a migraine. However, it is difficult for researchers to provide clear proof of which factors are most important.

Here are some of the “prime suspects” that can trigger a migraine.

Which factors could play a role in your case?

Go ahead and click your way through..

How do migraines develop?

Trigger factors

When one of these factors keep appearing before a migraine attack, it is called a “trigger factor.”

These trigger factors make migraines more likely to occur, but they do not always trigger a migraine attack.

If you often get a migraine attack after you stay up very late or get up very early it is likely that the change in your sleep/wake schedule is a migraine trigger for you. So, the next time you stay awake for many hours, you will probably have a migraine attack the next day. But if your migraine generator is not fully charged, then you might get lucky and not have an attack.

Trigger factors do not always immediately trigger a migraine attack.

That’s why you shouldn’t stress about avoiding every trigger in your daily life. After all, what would life be without long movie nights?

No, really, going to bed at 9 o’clock every night would get pretty boring and you would probably miss out on a lot of exciting things.

It is important that overall you have a healthy lifestyle (e.g. that you get enough – and regular – sleep and exercise) and learn how to deal with stressful situations.
Expert knowledge

Knowing the difference between triggers (migraine triggers) and precursors (prodromal symptoms) is often difficult. It takes detective work to figure out whether something has triggered the migraine or whether the migraine attack has already begun.

People often say that chocolate triggers migraine attacks. However, it is much more likely that the craving for chocolate is triggered by the onset of a migraine attack.

The headache diary for migraine attacks can help you identify your migraine triggers. Research has shown that children can often find at least one trigger factor for their migraines. Usually they find between 4 and 7!

In most studies, the time between the trigger and the migraine attack is up to 3 hours, although the amount of time can vary depending on the trigger.

The length of the migraine attack may also vary, depending on the trigger. Whether there are differences in trigger factors between girls and boys, or between younger or older children is unclear.

You can find out what prodromal symptoms are and what a headache diary looks like here….

You can find more information about migraines on the following pages…

What happens during a migraine attack?

Click here for more information! You will learn how a migraine attack unfolds.

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