In 2009, migraine headaches were on the list of most commonly approved disabilities for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. For male veterans receiving benefits, it was the fifth most common condition at 12 percent. For females, it was the second most common condition at 5 percent.

Migraine headaches can be chronic and debilitating, causing severe, intense pain that throbs in one spot of the head. This throbbing can last for hours or days. People who suffer from migraines usually experience nausea, extreme light and sound 3D Image of a Man Holding His Head in Painsensitivity, lightheadedness, and blurred vision—symptoms that require them to lie down in a quiet, dark room.

Although it’s not known what triggers migraines, medical literature suggests they can be brought about by sleep problems, depression, and medication. Disabled veterans who suffer from migraines caused by military service may do so because of an eye injury, spinal problems, or a traumatic brain injury. If you have service-connected migraines, you may be eligible for disability benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

What Triggers a Migraine?

Many people who experience migraines are often able to identify triggers or what they think activates their migraines. However, other people cannot single out a specific cause. Here are some possible triggers that bring about migraines:

  • Allergies and allergic reactions
  • Strong smells, odors, perfumes
  • Lights that are too bright or flickering
  • Noises that are too loud
  • Over excitement, tension, anxiety, depression, and emotional or physical stress
  • Fatigue, exercise, and jet lag
  • Smoking, exposure to smoke, and smoky rooms
  • Low blood sugar caused by fasting or skipping meals
  • Dehydration
  • Alcohol
  • Foods such as aged cheese, smoked fish, and red wine that contain tyramine
  • Foods such as peanut butter, bananas, chocolate, and nuts

It’s important to remember that these potential triggers don’t always cause a migraine, and even if you avoid these triggers, you still may get a severe headache.

If you’re a veteran who suffers from migraines, and you believe they started while you were in the military or because of a service event, contact us at 402-933-5405 to discuss your situation. We can help determine if you’re eligible for disability benefits from the VA.


Sean D. Cuddigan
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SSA and VA Disability Attorney in Omaha, Nebraska