FAQ on Migraine Causes
– Answers by Dr. Katz, MD, PhD, of the Moran Eye Institute in Utah
Let us start this post off by saying that migraine causes still remain unknown, however in the online community of migraine sufferers, the following are some frequently asked questions about migraine causes, predispositions to migraines, associated syndromes, and other related topics that our team felt we should address to offer a bit of guidance that might help some people in their struggle with migraines.
Q: How do painkillers cause headaches?
A: Over-the-counter and prescription drugs can result in overuse headaches, also known as “rebound headaches“. Migraine sufferers who use pain relievers, triptans, or opioids more that 2-3 days per week, week after week, and month after month are at risk of rebound headaches. This overuse of medication can result in a vicious cycle of more headaches and the need to take more and more medications.
The only way out of this cycle is to stop the pattern of overuse and prescribe prophylactic therapies – therapies that prevent headaches. Sufferers of rebound migraines should seek help from their physician.
Some of my research as a neuro-opthalmologist at the University of Utah involves prophylactic therapies, specifically wearing therapeutic eyewear to help migraine patients with light sensitivity.
Q: Why do I get headaches after a day out in the sun?
These headaches (like migraine headaches) start in the evening and only go away the next morning after a full night of sleep.
A: There are many ways that exposure to the sun be a migraine cause. These include (1) dehydration, (2) continuous exposure to bright light, and (3) heat.
(1) Dehydration is a common cause of headaches and may explain why you have been getting headaches after a long day in the sun.
(2) A number of individuals suffer from sensitivity to bright light. Umbrellas, hats and sunscreen can be helpful. Some people suffer from a condition known as photophobia, where exposure to light that is ordinarily not uncomfortable can cause migraine. Light in the blue-green part of the visible spectrum can be particularly uncomfortable to people who are predisposed to migraine. Therapeutic eyewear can help block the frequencies of light that are uncomfortable for these people.
(3) It is well known that the incidence of migraine increases during the warm summer months. If you’re sensitive to headaches after a day in the sun, be sure to take measures to stay cool!
Q: How common are Ocular Migraines and what are signs of them?
A: Ocular migraine is a confusing term. I think what the question is referring to is migraine aura. So, some people with migraines get a visual disturbance that precedes their headache and it’s usually spots and dots, broken glass, zig zags, prisms, different colored lights, and that usually lasts about fifteen or twenty minutes. That goes away and the patients get a headache. Some people will get that visual disturbance without a headache and that’s called a migraine aura without headache. Axon glasses aren’t really specifically made for migraine aura. They’re really made for light sensitivity associated with headache.