I am a Teenager. What Makes a Headache a Migraine?
A normal headache is common to almost everyone. There may be a throbbing in the front of your head during a cold or bout of the flu. Or you might feel pain in your temples or at the back of your head from a tension headache. Or you may have a dull pain around the front, top, and sides of your head.
A migraine is very different. It is defined as a recurrent headache that has additional symptoms. The pain is often throbbing and on one or both sides of the head. People with migraines often feel dizzy or sick in their stomachs. They may be sensitive to light, noise, or smells. Migraines can be disabling, and teens with migraines may need to skip school, sports or other activities until they feel better.
If you have migraines, you are not alone. Experts estimate that up to 10% of teens and young adults in the United States get migraines. Before age 10, an equal number of boys and girls get migraines. But after age 12, during and after puberty, migraines affect girls three times more often than boys.
What Causes a Migraine?
Not all scientists agree about what causes migraines. Many believe that a migraine is caused by narrowing and expanding of the blood vessels in the brain. There are also theories that the level of certain chemicals in the brain may affect the nerve system that regulates pain.
Whatever the cause, experts do agree that a variety of things set them off in people who have them. For some people, eating certain foods brings on a migraine. Others find that sleeping too long (or too little) provokes a migraine attack.
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