It’s not just all in your head — literally. In fact, chronic migraine , or migraines that appear on 15 or more days per month, is characterized by not only severe, throbbing pain but also many other symptoms that accompany an attack, including nausea and vomiting; sensitivity to light, sound, smell, and touch; and even a tingling or burning sensation in other parts of the body.
What’s happening in the brain to create such an excruciating storm? A migraine typically starts with a trigger, which is often incoming sensory information that wouldn’t bother most people, such as opening the door to a bright, sunny day or walking through the intense smell of coffee beans roasting. But during a migraine these stimuli feel like an all-out assault.
The result: The brain produces an outsize reaction to the trigger, its electrical system (mis)firing on all cylinders. This electrical activity causes a change in blood flow to the brain, which in turn affects the brain’s nerves, causing pain