Updated: Tuesday, August 13 2013, 09:51 AM EDT
The cause of migraine headaches isn't what you think, according one local physician and researcher.
Dr. Morris Maizels, Blue Ridge Headache Center, "recent research has replaced a myth with a mystery. The myth is that migraine is a vascular headache; it isn't."
Asheville doctor Morris Maizels says migraines are actually a brain disorder that need further study.
Learning more about the causes, he says, may eventually help doctors better treat patients who are often dibilitated by the pain.
Lisa Metcalf, migraine patient, "if you don't catch them early enough, you have to go to bed; they are sensitive to light, sound, smell, everything."
Debbie Plonkey, migraine patient, "I still kept trying to work but by the end of every work day they were so severe I had to come home lay down, take medication, put ice on my head."
Dr. Maizels, "we have 36 million people in this country with migraines and possibly half of them have not been properly diagnosed."
The doctor says avoiding too much medication, while exercising and eating healthy, can reduce the frequency of migraines.
Studies show migraine headaches cost Americans $17 billion annually, or doctor visits and medication.
Lost wages from missing work are also a factor.