Headache Specialist

Christopher Sinclair, MD -  - Neurologist

Suffolk Brain and Nerve

Christopher Sinclair, MD

Neurologist located in Port Jefferson Station, NY

About 39 million Americans — women, men, and children — are affected by migraine headaches, the third-most prevalent illness worldwide. More than simply a severe headache, migraine is a neurological disease that can leave you incapacitated. Dr. Christopher Sinclair, neurologist with Suffolk Brain and Nerve in Port Jefferson Station, New York, can help you with the latest in migraine treatment to shorten your episodes and relieve your pain. Call the office today, or request an appointment online.

Headaches/ Migraines Q & A

What causes migraines?

The causes behind migraines aren’t fully understood, but contemporary medicine suspects that genetics and environmental factors each play a role. Changes in the brainstem and the way it interacts with a primary pain route, the trigeminal nerve, seem to cause the various symptoms of migraine.

Brain chemical imbalances may also contribute, particularly involving serotonin, a pain regulator of the nervous system. Levels of serotonin drop during migraine attacks, which might trigger a response from the trigeminal nerve, resulting in migraine pain, but other neurotransmitters have a role as well. There are many factors that trigger the migraine response.

What are some common migraine triggers?

Migraine attacks are frequently associated with triggers; exposure to one of these triggers begins a migraine cycle. These are many and varied and can including physical and emotional factors. Some of the most common migraine triggers include:

  • Weather changes, with barometric pressure and changing weather systems possibly  triggering migraines
  • Beverages, such as alcohol in general and wine in particular, and caffeinated drinks
  • Dietary choices, such as processed foods, salty foods, and aged cheeses
  • Food additives, including monosodium glutamate and aspartame
  • Sleep disruptions, such as changes to sleeping patterns and extended wakefulness
  • Sensory factors, which can include sun glare, bright lights, strong smells, secondhand smoke and loud noises
  • Physical exertion, ranging from intense aerobic exercise to vigorous sexual activity
  • Medications, which may trigger migraines as a side effect

Additionally, you’re more at risk of getting migraines if you have a family history of them, or if you’re a woman. Three times as many women suffer migraines as men. While migraines can start at any age, they tend to peak in your 30s, falling off in severity as you get older.

How are migraines treated?

Many of the same pain relievers that work for conventional headaches may also be effective for some migraines. If you don’t respond to these drugs, Dr. Sinclair may prescribe stronger pain medications, including some drugs that aren’t typically used for headaches, but may work with migraines.

If you suffer from chronic migraines, Botox® injections may prevent migraines before they start. Single injections, given 12 weeks apart, can reduce the frequency of migraine attacks. Botox therapy is also effective for some people who experience chronic conventional headaches.