Have a symptom?
See what questions
a doctor would ask.

Causes of Migraine

List of causes of Migraine

Following is a list of causes or underlying conditions (see also Misdiagnosis of underlying causes of Migraine) that could possibly cause Migraine includes:

  • Genetic causes - autosomal dominance
  • Secondary to brain dysfunction
  • Depolarization theory
  • Vascular theory
  • Family history of migraine headaches (70-80%)
  • Medications (ie, birth control pills, vasodilators)
  • Fatigue or emotional stress
  • Specific foods or alcohol
  • Exertion
  • The exact cause of migraine is unknown. Migraine is most likely a heterogeneous disorder and has trigger factors and multiple physiologic causes
  • Birth control pills as well as hormone replacement therapy during menopause
More causes:see full list of causes for Migraine

Migraine Causes: Risk Factors

The following conditions have been cited in various sources as potentially causal risk factors related to Migraine:

Migraine Causes: Male-Female Gender Ratio

Gender of Patients for Migraine: Women are 75% of cases...more »

Gender Profile of Migraine: Although both males and females seem to be equally affected by migraine, the condition is more common in adult women. (Source: excerpt from Headache -- Hope Through Research: NINDS) ...more »

Gender Profile of Migraine: Although these headaches are common among both men and women, there are important differences. The prevalence of... (Source: excerpt from MIGRAINE HEADACHES: NWHIC) ...more »

Migraine: Related Medical Conditions

To research the causes of Migraine, consider researching the causes of these these diseases that may be similar, or associated with Migraine:

Migraine: Causes and Types

Causes of Types of Migraine: Review the cause informationfor the various types of Migraine:

  • Classic migraine - with an aura
  • Common migraine - without an aura
  • Menstrual migraine - predictable migraine related to menstrual periods
  • Hemiplegic migraine - temporary one-sided paralysis, sometimes with balance problems and vertigo.
  • Ophthalmoplegic migraine - around the eye and may involve droopy eyelid and vision disturbances such as double vision.
  • Basilar artery migraine - related to the brain's main artery.
  • Benign exertional headache - a usually brief headache triggered by exertion such as running, lifting, coughing, sneezing, or bending.
  • more types...»

Causes of Broader Categories of Migraine: Review the causal information about the various more general categories of medical conditions:

Migraine as a complication of other conditions:

Other conditions that might have Migraine as a complication may, potentially, be an underlying cause of Migraine. Our database lists the following as having Migraine as a complication of that condition:

Migraine as a symptom:

Conditions listing Migraine as a symptom may also be potential underlying causes of Migraine. Our database lists the following as having Migraine as a symptom of that condition:

Medications or substances causing Migraine:

The following drugs, medications, substances or toxins are some of the possible causes of Migraine as a symptom. This list is incomplete and various other drugs or substances may cause your symptoms. Always advise your doctor of any medications or treatments you are using, including prescription, over-the-counter, supplements, herbal or alternative treatments.

Drug interactions causing Migraine:

When combined, certain drugs, medications, substances or toxins may react causing Migraine as a symptom.

The list below is incomplete and various other drugs or substances may cause your symptoms. Always advise your doctor of any medications or treatments you are using, including prescription, over-the-counter, supplements, herbal or alternative treatments.

  • Propranolol and Ergotamine interaction
  • Birth Control Pill and Vitamin C interaction
  • Sumatriptan and St. John's Wort interaction
  • Imitrex and St. John's Wort interaction
  • Imitrex Nasal Spray and St. John's Wort interaction
  • more interactions...»

What causes Migraine?

Article excerpts about the causes of Migraine:

Headache -- Hope Through Research: NINDS (Excerpt)

Research scientists are unclear about the precise cause of migraine headaches. There seems to be general agreement, however, that a key element is blood flow changes in the brain. People who get migraine headaches appear to have blood vessels that overreact to various triggers.

Scientists have devised one theory of migraine which explains these blood flow changes and also certain biochemical changes that may be involved in the headache process. According to this theory, the nervous system responds to a trigger such as stress by causing a spasm of the nerve-rich arteries at the base of the brain. The spasm closes down or constricts several arteries supplying blood to the brain, including the scalp artery and the carotid or neck arteries.

As these arteries constrict, the flow of blood to the brain is reduced. At the same time, blood-clotting particles called platelets clump together-a process which is believed to release a chemical called serotonin. Serotonin acts as a powerful constrictor of arteries, further reducing the blood supply to the brain.

Reduced blood flow decreases the brain's supply of oxygen. Symptoms signaling a headache, such as distorted vision or speech, may then result, similar to symptoms of stroke.

Reacting to the reduced oxygen supply, certain arteries within the brain open wider to meet the brain's energy needs. This widening or dilation spreads, finally affecting the neck and scalp arteries. The dilation of these arteries triggers the release of pain-producing substances called prostaglandins from various tissues and blood cells. Chemicals which cause inflammation and swelling, and substances which increase sensitivity to pain, are also released. The circulation of these chemicals and the dilation of the scalp arteries stimulate the pain-sensitive nociceptors. The result, according to this theory: a throbbing pain in the head. (Source: excerpt from Headache -- Hope Through Research: NINDS)

Headache -- Hope Through Research: NINDS (Excerpt)

The relationship between female hormones and migraine is still unclear. Women may have "menstrual migraine"—headaches around the time of their menstrual period—which may disappear during pregnancy. Other women develop migraine for the first time when they are pregnant. Some are first affected after menopause.

The effect of oral contraceptives on headaches is perplexing. Scientists report that some women with migraine who take birth control pills experience more frequent and severe attacks. However, a small percentage of women have fewer and less severe migraine headaches when they take birth control pills. And normal women who do not suffer from headaches may develop migraines as a side effect when they use oral contraceptives. Investigators around the world are studying hormonal changes in women with migraine in the hope of identifying the specific ways these naturally occurring chemicals cause headaches. (Source: excerpt from Headache -- Hope Through Research: NINDS)

Migraine Update: NINDS (Excerpt)

For many years, scientists believed that migraines were linked to the dilation and constriction of blood vessels in the head. Investigators now believe that migraine is caused by inherited abnormalities in certain cell populations in the brain. Using new imaging technologies, scientists can see changes in the brain during migraine attacks. Scientists believe that there is a migraine pain center located in the brainstem, a region at the base of the brain. As neurons fire, surrounding blood vessels dilate and become inflamed, causing the characteristic pain of a migraine. In order to keep this process in check, prompt treatment is of the essence. (Source: excerpt from Migraine Update: NINDS)

Migraine Update: NINDS (Excerpt)

Though the causes are not precisely known, it is clear that migraine is a genetic disorder. For some forms of migraine, specific abnormal genes have been identified. People with migraine have an enduring predisposition to attacks triggered by a range of factors. (Source: excerpt from Migraine Update: NINDS)

What triggers Migraine?

The following conditions are listed as possible triggers for Migraine:

Medical news summaries relating to Migraine:

The following medical news items are relevant to causes of Migraine:

Related information on causes of Migraine:

As with all medical conditions, there may be many causal factors. Further relevant information on causes of Migraine may be found in:


By using this site you agree to our Terms of Use. Information provided on this site is for informational purposes only; it is not intended as a substitute for advice from your own medical team. The information on this site is not to be used for diagnosing or treating any health concerns you may have - please contact your physician or health care professional for all your medical needs. Please see our Terms of Use.

Home | Symptoms | Diseases | Diagnosis | Videos | Tools | Forum | About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Site Map | Advertise