About 39 million Americans suffer from migraines — intense headaches that can be accompanied by nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, visual disturbances, and other symptoms. Migraines can strike at any time, but most migraine headaches are associated with specific triggers, like stress, changes in the weather, or hormonal fluctuations.
At Magnolia Pain Associates, Nina Sandhu, DO and her team know that migraines can be very complex, both in how they occur and in the symptoms they can cause. That’s why Dr. Sandhu uses a custom migraine treatment approach for patients at her practices in Plano, Dallas, and Corsicana, Texas.
In addition to finding treatment options to relieve migraines (and sometimes, even prevent them), Dr. Sandhu helps patients understand why migraines happen. That includes educating her patients about the link between hormones and migraine headaches.
Why migraines happen
Researchers don’t know exactly why migraines happen, but they do know that migraines probably involve a complex interaction of nerves, blood vessels, and brain chemicals. Most migraines involve throbbing pain on one side of your head, but even this symptom can vary from one person to the next.
Physiologically, migraines begin as bursts of electrical activity deep inside your brain. These electrical currents spread into other areas of your brain, causing pain and triggering the other classic migraine symptoms, like:
- Visual disturbances or tunnel vision
- Numbness or tingling
Some migraine sufferers may experience a type of “brain fog” that makes it hard to communicate.
While both women and men suffer from migraines, these headaches are far more common in women — about 3-4 times as common. What’s more, many women find they have more headaches during specific times of their menstrual cycle. These factors led researchers to take a closer look at the link between migraines and estrogen.
The role of hormones in migraine headaches
Like migraines in general, the role of estrogen in migraines isn’t entirely clear. While researchers know estrogen fluctuations play a role in migraines, they’re not exactly sure how the two are interconnected.
What they do know is that estrogen affects levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a major role in modulating pain (and mood, too). On top of that, estrogen also affects your blood pressure and your blood vessels, both of which are implicated in migraine headaches.
Most people think of estrogen as the “female” hormone, but men have estrogen, too (and women have testosterone). That means migraines in men may also be driven by a hormonal component — and it could also explain why these debilitating headaches affect men much less frequently.
Dr. Sandhu has extensive experience in finding solutions for migraine pain. Prior to treating your headaches, she’ll perform a physical exam and may request lab testing. For your part, keeping a journal of when your headaches strike, what you’re doing at the time, and what symptoms you experience can play an important role in fine-turning your treatment.
Today, patients have more options when it comes to treating migraine pain and reducing the occurrence of headaches. Depending on your needs, Dr. Sandhu may recommend:
- Oral medications for pain or depression
- Injections of Botox® to calm overactive nerve signaling
- Hormonal therapy
- Behavioral therapy to help reduce stress
Most people with migraines benefit from a combination of therapies, but your treatment will be entirely tailored to your needs.
Migraine symptoms can take a big toll on your life and your well-being, especially if you have them frequently or on a recurrent basis. Fortunately, treatment can help. To learn how Dr. Sandhu can help you find relief for your migraines, book an appointment online or over the phone at Magnolia Pain Associates today.