Many factors have been identified as triggers for a migraine but many sufferers are on guard of exercise and gleaming lights, in particular. There are various studies pointing out that bright lights are the cause of these severe headaches about half the time and exercise seems to aggravate about 20 percent of migraines.
In a recent study conducted by the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, researchers first assess whether or not self-reported triggers can actually cause migraine attacks. A team of scientists recently observed 27 people who reported that strenuous exercise and bright or flickering lights triggered their migraines. The participants were exposed to different types of stimulation and monitored them. To look at the effects of intense exercise, the participants ran or pedaled on stationary bikes at a pace that brought them close to their maximum heart rates. In other scenarios, the subjects were exposed to bright lighting.
This study which is published in the journal Neurology found that none of the subjects had migraines after exposure to light alone. Six of them experienced migraines from exercise alone or from a combination of bright light and exercise.
Some of the participants had migraines with aura wherein a headache is preceded by a warning sign, often a visual disturbance. Though light exposure did not seem to be much of a trigger, at least by itself, the researchers did note that exercise may indeed be a reliable cause for a small group of migraine sufferers.
Unlike exercise, bright light may not be a cause of migraines. But more research is needed. It is important for migraine sufferers to look at the big picture — situations or sequences of activities that precede a migraine attack — in addition to suspected triggers.
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