Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Migraine triggers tricky to pinpoint

Date:
April 8, 2013
Source:
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
Summary:
A new study has found that it is nearly impossible for patients to determine the true cause of their migraine episodes without undergoing formal experiments.

Women often point to stress, hormones, alcohol, or even the weather as possible triggers for their migraines. But a new study from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center found that it is nearly impossible for patients to determine the true cause of their migraine episodes without undergoing formal experiments.

Related Articles


The majority of migraine sufferers try to figure out for themselves what causes their headaches based on real world conditions, said lead author Timothy T. Houle, Ph.D, associate professor of anesthesia and neurology at Wake Forest Baptist.

"But our research shows this is a flawed approach for several reasons," he said. "Correctly identifying triggers allows patients to avoid or manage them in an attempt to prevent future headaches. However, daily fluctuations of variables -- such as weather, diet, hormone levels, sleep, physical activity and stress -- appear to be enough to prevent the perfect conditions necessary for determining triggers."

For example, said Houle, the simple act of drinking a glass of wine one day and not on the next could be complicated by inconsistencies in other factors. Similarly, a patient may drink wine for several days, but adding cheese to the mix one day could further skew results. In fact, a valid self-evaluation requires such perfect conditions that only occur about once every two years, he said.

"Many patients live in fear of the unpredictability of headache pain. As a result, they often restrict their daily lives to prepare for the eventuality of the next attack that may leave them bedridden and temporarily disabled," Houle said. "They may even engage in medication-use strategies that inadvertently worsen their headaches. The goal of this research is to better understand what conditions must be true for an individual headache sufferer to conclude that something causes their headaches."

Houle and co-author Dana P. Turner, M.S.P.H., also of the Wake Forest Baptist anesthesiology department, have published two related papers on the subject in the journal Headache, which were published online ahead of print this month.

For the study, nine women who had regular menstrual cycles and were diagnosed with migraine either with or without aura provided data for three months by completing a daily diary and tracking stress with the Daily Stress Inventory, a self-administered questionnaire to measure the number and impact of common stressors experienced in everyday life. Morning urine was also collected daily for hormone level testing. Houle and Turner also reviewed three years worth of weather data from a local weather station. Because of the difficulty in recreating identical conditions each time a patient evaluates a potential trigger, determining triggers proves difficult even for physicians, said Turner. "People who try to figure out their own triggers probably don't have enough information to truly know what causes their headaches," she said. "They need more formal experiments and should work with their doctors to devise a formal experiment for testing triggers."

The research was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and of the National Institutes of Health (1R01NS06525701).

Co-authors include: Todd A. Smitherman, Ph.D., University of Mississippi, Donald B. Penzien, Ph.D., Head Pain Center, University of Mississippi Medical Center, and Vincent T. Martin, M.D., University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Dana P. Turner, Todd A. Smitherman, Vincent T. Martin, Donald B. Penzien, Timothy T. Houle. Causality and Headache Triggers. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 2013; 53 (4): 628 DOI: 10.1111/head.12076

Cite This Page:

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. "Migraine triggers tricky to pinpoint." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130408084745.htm>.
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. (2013, April 8). Migraine triggers tricky to pinpoint. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130408084745.htm
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. "Migraine triggers tricky to pinpoint." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130408084745.htm (accessed November 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, November 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Your Complicated Job Might Keep Your Brain Young

Newsy (Nov. 20, 2014) Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found the more complex your job is, the sharper your cognitive skills will likely be as you age. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
100-Year-Old Woman Sees Ocean for First Time

100-Year-Old Woman Sees Ocean for First Time

AP (Nov. 20, 2014) Ruby Holt spent most of her 100 years on a farm in rural Tennessee, picking cotton and raising four children. She saw the ocean for the first time thanks to her assisted living center and a group that grants wishes to the elderly. (Nov. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Kids React to Lammily, The Realistic Barbie Alternative

Kids React to Lammily, The Realistic Barbie Alternative

Buzz60 (Nov. 19, 2014) Artist Nickolay Lamm's Kickstarter-funded Lammily doll, based on his 'What Would Barbie Look Like as a Real Woman' project, is finally available to buy. Jen Markham explains how the doll's realistic proportions are going over with a test group of second-graders who are used to the impossible measurements of Barbie dolls. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trans-Fat Foods Now Linked To Poor Memory

Trans-Fat Foods Now Linked To Poor Memory

Newsy (Nov. 19, 2014) A study presented at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions shows a link between diets high in trans fats and decreased memory recall. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins