According to the American Migraine Foundation, migraine is one of the most disabling diseases on earth, affecting 1 in 7 people worldwide.
Migraine episodes can cause a variety of symptoms, from sensitivity to light to dizziness and more. Some people even experience chills. These are most likely due to changes in your brain that can occur as a migraine episode develops.
Read on to explore the science behind migraine chills, as well as other possible causes of chills, and how to manage migraines and migraine symptoms at home.
Migraines can cause a wide variety of symptoms. Many of these vary from person to person. Common symptoms during a migraine attack can include:
- throbbing or throbbing pain
- Pain in different areas of the head
- Drowsiness or dizziness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Sensitivity to light and sound
For some people, chills can develop as a migraine symptom at any stage of a migraine episode. Chills can occur a few hours or even a few days before a migraine episode develops.
To understand how chills can be linked to migraine episodes, it is helpful to first understand how migraines affect the brain.
According to a 2018 study, migraines can lead to both structural and functional changes in the brain. Scientists have observed changes in certain areas and neurons of the brain, as well as in nerves outside the brain. In addition, researchers have found that certain molecules and receptors can also be linked to the development of migraines.
But how can changes in the brain related to migraines lead to symptoms such as sweating, tremors, or chills? In a 2015 review, researchers hypothesized that most migraine symptoms originate in different areas of the brain. This includes your:
- Brain stem
Researchers believe that neurological changes in these areas of the brain cause symptoms that occur in the stages before a migraine attack.
Most people experience chills or chills when their body temperature drops and the body temperature is controlled by the hypothalamus. A 2020 study also found that women with chronic migraines were more likely to report cold hands or feet. This is most likely due to blood vessel changes that occur during migraine episodes.
In addition, the cerebral cortex is involved in muscle movement, and chills are the result of involuntary tension and relaxation of the muscles. Although the tremors are more closely related to activity in the hypothalamus, the cerebral cortex still plays a role in the perception of body sensations such as chills.
Ultimately, changes in these areas of the brain, along with many other symptoms, can cause some people to experience chills during a migraine episode.
Migraine symptoms can be treated with a variety of different drugs, including both acute drugs and prophylactic (preventive) drugs.
Acute medication is helpful to relieve symptoms once a migraine attack has started and can include:
- Pain relievers that relieve pain and inflammation
- Ergotamines, which contract blood vessels to relieve pain
- Triptans, which contract blood vessels and change serotonin levels to reduce pain and inflammation
- Opioids that relieve pain when traditional pain relievers aren’t strong enough
Prophylactic medications are an essential part of migraine prevention for people with chronic migraines and can include:
- CGRP antagonists, which use antibody therapy to block certain migraine-related compounds
- Beta blockers, which block the effects of adrenaline (adrenaline) and widen blood vessels
- Calcium channel blockers, which regulate the contraction and widening of blood vessels
- Antidepressants, which change the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain
- Anticonvulsants that calm the nerves in the brain
In general, any medication that helps relieve your migraine symptoms – whether before or during an attack – should also help relieve chills if you are suffering from them.
If you have migraines or other migraine symptoms like chills, here are some home remedies to consider.
Home remedies for migraines
Recent research suggests that migraine prevention can reduce the frequency of seizures by up to 50 percent if successful. Medication can help you find relief, but you can also consider lifestyle changes to reduce the frequency and severity of your migraines. These can include:
- Make a change in diet. Common dietary triggers for migraines include cold cuts, chocolate, cheese and dairy products, alcohol, and certain fruits, to name a few. Replacing these foods with migraine-friendly alternatives can help reduce the frequency of migraine episodes. Adding certain foods to your diet, like ginger and magnesium, can also help reduce the frequency and severity of migraines.
- Engage in relaxing activities. Stress is a common trigger for many people with migraines, so it is helpful to include stress-relieving activities in your routine to help prevent migraines. Gentle workouts and activities like yoga and massage therapy can help reduce daily stress and decrease the frequency of migraines.
- Consider alternative medications. Some people have reported experiencing relief from migraine symptoms through alternative methods. Alternative therapies like acupressure and aromatherapy can help manage migraine pain. In addition, certain herbal supplements such as feverfew and butterbur can help reduce migraine symptoms.
Home remedies for chills
In general, home remedies are considered to be the first line of treatment for chills that is not associated with a serious medical condition. However, you may find that certain treatments work better than others depending on the underlying cause.
If your migraine episodes are frequently accompanied by chills, treating the underlying migraine should help reduce or even eliminate this symptom. If your chills and headaches have another underlying cause, such as a viral infection or use of medication, sometimes over-the-counter or prescription medications can help temporarily relieve symptoms.
However, if you have the chills that don’t go away with home treatment or that get worse over time, see a doctor for more testing.
Migraine episodes can be accompanied by a variety of symptoms, including chills. Many of these symptoms can be debilitating for people with migraines.
In some cases, chills can be caused by changes in the brain that occur before or during a migraine attack. In other cases, chills that accompany a headache may indicate a more serious underlying medical condition.
If you are concerned that your chills could be more than just a symptom of your migraine episodes, contact a doctor as soon as possible to discuss your concerns.