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Triggers and Causes

Family History

  • By cindybear

    I have a strong family history of Familial Hemiplegic Migraine. My daughter and two of my nieces have experienced them once or twice, but I have them much more often – 2 a month on the average. I have many more relatives who have migraine with aura and I experience these as well from time to time. Both of my parents have migraine with aura, I suppose that’s why I am so susceptible besides the fact that I have asthma which is linked to migraine.

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  • By olivia

    C A D A S I L an autosomal DOMINANT genetic disorder that causes cognitive vascular impairment a burden of illness similar to that caused by and often misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease. Some early symptoms of CADASIL can be numbness, MIGRAINE headaches , mood disorders and TIA’s. CADASIL is often misdiagnosed as MS. If you suffer from any of these symptoms or there is a family history of stroke, Alzheimer’s or MS ask your doctor about CADASIL.

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  • By ladykricket

    Olivia, why don’t migraine specialists check for this instead of throwing drugs at us? I was just recently told to check out CADASIL and I wonder why my neurologists haven’t checked this in 20 years. I had a TIA 30 Years ago when I was in Iceland and recently have had numbness twice in my left arm. When I informed my neurologist of the numbness he wasn’t concerned. My mother suffered from migraines, a hereditary heart condition and dementia but I don’t know if she had a stroke. I want to be tested for CADASIL but am afraid that my doctor will ignore my wishes again. I don’t want more drugs I want to understand why I have a massive migraine for 4 months.

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  • By olivia

    Ladykricket, Many doctors don’t look into CADASIL because they think it is too rare a disease. However much of the literature now says that CADASIL may not be as rare as previously thought.

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    Olivia and Ladykricket, Sometimes doctors don’t want the added pressure of testing patients for longshot ailments. This doesn’t make it right, but it does make it understandable.

    I have found that how you word the request can make all the difference in the world. For instance, many doctors go onto the defensive when told “I heard about this and want to be tested for it.” They feel their knowledge has been usurped for some rare longshot crazy disease, and this is a negative feeling they don’t appreciate.

    Instead you might try “Dr. I have this information (show printed article) about something called CADASIL. Because so many of the symptoms fit me and my family history, I would really like to rule this out.” In this case you are not looking for the boogie man (which doctors have learned rarely exist in real life) but the opposite – you’re being smart in ruling something out… getting it out of the way so you can go on to continue treatment as recommended.

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  • By babydoll9206

    My grandma,aunt,and mom all suffered from migraines. I had my first migraine at 12 and thought I was going to die it hurt so bad. My doctor has diagnosed me with menstrual migraines. As I type this I am entering my fourth day with one. I need to change my med as the med my doctor gave me does nothing. I want to try topamax as that wards off migraines. Imitrex has worked for me in the past.

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    Hello babydoll9206, Does your doctor know you are on day 4 of this particular attack? A severe Migraine lasting more than 3 days is a serious situation called Status Migraine that should be seen by your doctor.

    Have you tried other preventives yet for your attacks?

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  • By Sheena

    My father and his biological siblings all have migraines, my grandma and great-grandma both did. The age the migraines began vary within my family. My dad and a few of his siblings were yonger than 10yo when they started…I had one at 17 and then started getting them more regularly at 18, which is when I was officially diagnosed. My biggest fear is that I will pass this on to my future children and it breaks my heart. My sister does not get them, and I pray that my niece will never have to experience them either.

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  • By Achinghead

    My father, brother, daughter and I suffer from migraines. My Dad stopped getting them around age 60. My daughter started getting migraines about age 20. They definately run in our family. I don’t get an aura, but my father, brother and daughter all do.

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  • By T Jay

    had my first complicated migraine in 7th grade, never got another one until my 30’s when i thought I must be dying. I’m 51 now and was hoping they would be gone by now. My father had migraines when he was young, as did my brother. They don’t get them anymore. My sisters and I started late and still have them. 2 of my kids have them. We found a journal of my great grandfathers from over 100 years ago, in it he often mentions having the “sick headache”. Sucky gene to pass down 🙁

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  • By pooh2you

    I am a chronic migraineur, and my daughter also suffers from migraines. I knew that my maternal grandma also suffered migraines, but just recently discovered that her sister and her daughter also did/do. We now jokingly call it the “Maier Curse” (for that side if the family).

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    pooh2you – I totally understand that.

    My dad gets *sinus headaches* he refuses to see as possible Migraine, despite our genetic links to many Migraineurs. My mom swears that I got my Migraines from dad because it’s not possible to have come from her, despite the fact that I have explained to her variable penetrance and the fact that you can carry the gene and not suffer Migraine at all.

    It’s a very hard thing to realize that we might have passed along something that is so devastating at times.

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  • By Teania

    Could it be possible that narcolepsy is linked with migraines? I’m just trying to figure out if maybe my grandmothers on both sides of the family are the reason I have such severe migraines. maternal grandmother has “Drunk” headaches where she feels dizzy and feels sick the whole time but with not a lot of pain and my paternal grandmother has narcolepsy but I know she’s had bad headaches before. Could they be connected? My mom and dad both have never had a migraine and my brother doesn’t have them and my sister doesn’t have them. Only me.

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    Teania – Believe it or not, this is not the first time this has come up!

    Narcolepsy is thought to be autoimmune in nature, so this post may be helpful to you: Migraine Triggers and Comorbidities: Autoimmune Disease https://migraine.com/blog/triggers-and-comorbidities-autoimmune-disease/

    Also, sleep disruption is one of the most common triggers for Migraineurs – this means any kind of disruption or abnormality including too much sleep etc. Read more about it here:

    Migraine Triggers: What Are Sleep Triggers? (Part 1) https://migraine.com/blog/migraine-triggers-sleep-1/

    Migraine Triggers: Sleep Rules & Tips (Part 2) https://migraine.com/blog/migraine-triggers-sleep-2/

    Migraine Triggers: More Sleep Rules, Tips and Tricks (Part 3) https://migraine.com/blog/migraine-triggers-more-sleep-rules-tips-and-tricks-part-3/

    Narcolepsy is also known to be neurological, just like Migraine is neurological. I don’t know of any genetic ties, however sometimes our genes need to be *turned on* in order to start working or malfunctioning. Just because you have the genes for a condition doesn’t necessarily mean you will get it.

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  • By garfieldrules

    My dad suffered bad headaches when he was around 40. They stopped after 8 months. My twin sister has suffered migraines for 25years. She also gets tension & sinus headaches. I get all of the above plus hormonal migraines. My twin & I are 44 and my dad is 70. I have suffered chronic daily migraines for 6years and horrible daily headaches for about 20yrs prior to that.

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    garfieldrules – I am so sorry you are going through so much. The genetic part of this disease makes it both easier to understand, and more difficult. It’s good because you have others who understand what you are going through, however, it is the people you love who are going through similar pain, and this is both sad and painful too.

    Please be sure that you have all had good health work-ups done, including hormone levels etc so you know you’re not dealing with another condition in concert with Migraine. These can often be treated and can really change a person’s life when that’s the case.

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  • By Becky

    My mom gets them, my older brother and myself – I have had migraines (of course in the 70’s they were treated as sinus headaches), I remember my junior year in high school one of my cousins said “you and your mama are the only people I know that get THE headache not A headache. So that basically tells you I have had them most of my 44 years. Mama remembers hearing that her grandma died of “the headache” so of course we know that migraines are way back in the family tree.

    Becky

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  • By PaulaJan

    I find that most doctors, especially neurologists, and nearly all laypeople want to figure out “why” I have migraines. I have dealt with migraine symptoms since I was a child (then called sinus headaches), which got worse when I began menstruating (hormonal headaches), and now that I am past all the phases in life at 58 years old, I still have no medical reason for migraine suffering. Two of my mom’s sisters suffered greatly wiith “sick headaches”, as did one of my dad’s aunts. It is not the best family gene to inherit, but it does tell me WHY I have migraines! I have been validated and helped the most by a pain specialist who doesn’t care why the migraines occur, just treats the pain condition.

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  • By Sandala

    Just want everyone to know that as a massage therapist who utilizes neuromuscular and trigger point therapies, I have seen some clients get relief from the same. I have seen clients go all the way up to the neurologist with no explanation for the pain, albeit they are cleared for any other serious illness. Then on occasion some neurologists suggest a massage and when I see them I check for common areas and they are amazed that no one suggested trigger point therapy. People who work 8-10 hours a day on a computer are very much affected by trigger points in the trappezius, scalene, occipital and SCM muscles, all of which affect the neck area and cause some serious head pain. I do not diagnose; but after some sessions when the client admits to feeling better, I seriously consider trigger points as a possible offender.

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  • By Nancy Harris Bonk Moderator

    Hi PaulaJan,

    You may have migraine because genetics have played a part in it – its a genetic neurological disease. The break down is when one parent has migraine, a child has a 50% risk of getting them too; when both parents have migraine, the risk goes up to 75%. This doesn’t include the risks when extended members have migraine.

    I wonder if you have considered see a migraine specialist as pain specialists aren’t necessarily the best option for people like us who have migraine. Pain medications simply mask our pain and one key component to a migraine management plan is to stop the frequency of attacks. A migraine specialist is a doctor who is board certified in headache medicine and treats people with migraine all day, every day. Let me share information with you on how these doctors are special; https://migraine.com/blog/how-are-migraine-specialists-different/ and if you’d like to look for a new doctor, you’ll find that information in this link; https://migraine.com/blog/looking-for-a-migraine-specialist/

    Another problem with pain medications and/or migraine abortive medications is called mediation overuse headache or moh. This can occur when we take pain relievers and/or abortive medications more than two to three days a week. Let me share this information with you; https://migraine.com/blog/help-how-can-i-not-overuse-migraine-medications/.

    I hope this helps,
    Nancy

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  • By Not Carly Simon

    That I know of my paternal grandfather, aunt and uncle got the full package and my mom (aura only) and maternal uncle have them. Me, my brother, and my sister have them.

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