The development of migraine isn’t fully understood. In males, stress, physical activity, and lack of sleep seem to be among the most common triggers.
Migraine is a neurological condition that can cause headaches and other symptoms like nausea or light sensitivity.
Anybody can develop migraine, but after puberty, females develop migraine at a much higher rate than males. It’s thought this may be at least partially due to fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone at different points in the menstrual cycle.
Researchers have identified many common triggers for migraine. This article focuses on the most common triggers for males and examines the role that hormone levels may play in the development of migraine.
Researchers still aren’t completely sure what causes migraine, but they’ve linked it to stimulation of pain-sensitive nerve endings along the trigeminal nerve. Why this occurs
In a 2021
Males reported stress as their most common trigger. It was reported among 69% of men. In contrast, the most common trigger in women was menstruation. Stress was the second most common trigger in women, reported in 76.7% of people.
Research examining the link between stress and migraine episodes is ongoing. It’s thought that stress could lower the
- production of lactate
- increased levels of a molecule called calcitonin gene-related peptide during exercise
- dysfunction of a molecule called hypocretin produced by your hypothalamus
Although exercise may trigger migraine episodes in some people, regular physical activity may also be
Sunlight and bright lights
In the same 2021
Lack of sleep
The specific reason why lack of sleep leads to migraine is still
Not eating enough and dehydration
Skipping meals was reported as a trigger in
- low blood sugar
- caffeine withdrawal for those who consume caffeine
In a relatively small 2020
Low blood sugar
Low blood sugar may trigger migraine episodes by increasing sympathetic nervous system activity. Eating more frequent small meals has been proposed as a strategy for preventing migraine episodes.
Certain foods or drinks
Certain foods and drinks are linked to migraine episodes, including:
- alcohol, reported as a trigger in
45.5%of males in the 2021 study
- aged cheese
- fermented foods
- dysfunction of endothelial cells that line your blood vessels
- impaired ability of your blood vessels to relax
- excessive activation of platelets, which are cells that help your blood clot
- shared genetic pathways
- common underlying causes
- use of anti-inflammatory drugs
Researchers are still examining the role of hormone levels in the development of migraine in males. Females develop migraine about
In females, estrogen levels fluctuate with the menstrual cycle and seem to increase the susceptibility to migraine episodes during menstruation. These hormonal changes might increase migraine episode susceptibility by increasing neuron excitability in the brain.
In a 2018 study, researchers found that higher levels of estradiol, a form of estrogen, and lower levels of male sex hormones were linked to a higher risk of migraine in males. It’s thought that a drop in estrogen tends to trigger migraine episodes.
The most typical symptom of a migraine episode is a throbbing pain on one side of your head that can be severe. Other symptoms can include:
Some people experience an aura before a migraine episode. Potential symptoms of an aura include:
- changes to your vision like seeing flashing lights
- numbness or tingling in your limbs
- trouble speaking
Some research suggests that males are less likely to seek medical care for their headaches than females. However, speaking with a doctor about your headaches can help you develop a treatment plan and reduce your symptoms.
It’s a good idea to see a doctor if you experience:
- migraine episodes more than once a week
- difficulty managing migraine episodes
- severe symptoms or worsening symptoms
It’s important to get urgent care if you’ve had a migraine that’s lasted more than 72 hours or aura symptoms that last longer than an hour, according to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS).
Treatment options for migraine episodes include:
- pain relievers like ibuprofen and acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- anti-nausea medications
- calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) antagonists
- reducing caffeine intake
- eating meals at regular times each day
- incorporating relaxation techniques into your life
- neuromodulation device
Making changes to your lifestyle habits such as eating at the same time each day and staying active may help you prevent migraine episodes. It’s important to see a doctor if your symptoms get worse or are affecting your life.