How Migraine Cause Disability?

Migraine is one of the most common problems in the general population today, especially among young women. It is associated with impaired quality of life as it is responsible for the loss of productivity due to high pain and other associated symptoms.

 How Migraine Cause Disability?

Migraine is one of the common types of headache, but it is not just a headache. It is much more to it. It is a medical condition which is characterized by episodic attacks of a headache, accompanied by nausea, sensitivity to light, and problems with head movement. A migraine is a lifelong problem which may start in childhood, disappear, and then reappear in different forms throughout life.

The frequency, duration, and intensity of the attacks of a migraine can vary from one person to another and also episodes to episodes. Most often, migraine is accompanied by a temporary disability that affects the work and productivity of life. Migraine is categorized into two types:

  • Migraine with aura – It consists of a focal neurological symptom which stays for around half an hour and appears as a visual, sensory, and language disturbance. Within an hour of these symptoms, patient experience typical migraine headache usually appears with its unilateral throbbing pain and is accompanied by nausea, vomiting, photophobia, or phonophobia.
  • Migraine without aura – It is another type of migraine which is characterized by throbbing pain on one side and is associated with nausea, vomiting, tiredness, difficulty with concentration and sensitivity to light and sound.

According to the studies, migraine is an inherited problem of ion channels in the brain. People with a sensitive brain are prone to suffer from migraine. Normally, when people are exposed to loud music, bright light, or any excessive motion, they adapt these strong stimuli within minutes, but in the brain of people who suffer from migraine, the strength of stimulus continue to grow and leads to the occurrence of the symptoms of migraine.

Stages of attack

The attack of migraine consists of five phases:

1st phase – It is known as a prodrome or a warning stage which is characterized by signs like changes in mood, tiredness, and unusual thirst and hunger. This phase of migraine usually begins around 48 hours before an attack.

2nd phase – It is known as an aura stage and it lasts for around an hour. It is accompanied by signs like headache, problems with vision, state of confusion, and pain of pins and needles.

3rd phase – It is considered to be the main phase of the attack and it lasts for around 4 to 72 hours. This phase is characterized by headache along with symptoms like nausea and vomiting.

4th phase – This phase is known as postdrome or the resolution stage in which the pain starts to disappear but the feeling or an impact of attack remains.

5th phase – This is the last phase known as a recovery stage and an individual takes few days to recover fully. It can vary from person to person. For some recovery can be quick, whereas for some it may take time.

Also Read: Why Vitamin D should be checked first for maintaining vitamin C?


When we talk about preventing migraine, one thing that comes in a mind is to avoid triggers. There are many triggers for migraine and taking care of them is the best possible way to prevent migraine attacks. Some of the common triggers of migraine include:

1. Psychological stressors

Stress is believed to be the most common trigger for migraine and multiple studies have explained the link between the stress and migraine. Emotional or physical trauma such as abuse and social stress are examples of psychological stressors.

The relationship between stress and migraine can be explained in many ways. One of these includes the response of psychological stress which involve hypothalamic pituitary adrenocortical axis, and sympathetic nervous system including adrenal medulla. When both these systems are activated, behavioral and psychological changes occur that triggers migraine.

Another way stress impacts headache is through the alteration of the immune system in such a way that transmission of pain is facilitated at neuronal level and inflammatory mediators that act as pain mediators that can sensitize the pain matrix.

2. Diet

Evidence suggests that patients who suffer from migraine are abnormally sensitive to many food items. There are many food items that are known to trigger the symptoms of migraine attack. Some of the food items that might trigger an attack of migraine include:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Fatty or fried foods
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Caffeine
  • Strong cheese

Caffeine is the most common item that triggers migraine attack. Caffeine causes constrictions of blood vessels. Alcoholic beverages are another common trigger of migraine. Alcohol contains many ingredients and the chemical effect of these ingredients on cranial blood vessels is one of the possible cause of the attack.

3. Sleep disorders

According to research, people who have migraine are twice more likely to have insomnia. Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder which is characterized by problems with falling asleep or staying asleep. Insomnia is considered to be a risk factor for higher headache frequency.

One of the possible reasons for this is that insomnia cause lack of sleep which in turn leads to the occurrence of tiredness in an individual. Evidence suggests that tiredness is one of the common triggers for migraine. Not only lack of sleep, researchers have suggested that too much sleep can also contribute to migraine attack.

Tags: Early Morning Headache : 5 Causes you cannot missWhy Do I Experience A Persistent Headache?Chiropractic – The Art of Controlling your Spine

Photo of author

Jim Carson

Jim Carson is the writer for the mental health section of He is certified in clinical mental health counselling and has conducted cognitive behaviour therapy for war veterans struggling with PTSD. Professionally and personally, Jim is an astute observer of human behaviour that reflects well in his work.