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Migraine Triggers and How to Avoid Them

Even though the exact causes of migraines are still unknown, there are many different things that have been shown to trigger migraines. Avoiding these triggers can be the best method for preventing a migraine. Let’s take a closer look at some of these triggers.

Some Common Migraine Triggers

Some examples of  common migraine triggers include:

  • Migraine Triggers and How to Avoid ThemBright light
  • Anxiety or stress — Any type of stress or anxiety may trigger a migraine attack.
  • Drugs — Oral contraceptives and vasodilators can raise your likelihood of a migraine.
  • Loud noises
  • Foods — Some of the known common food triggers include artificial sweeteners such as aspartame; foods which are known to contain tyramine like aged cheeses, processed meats, and certain types of wine; foods which contain MSG; any alcoholic drinks, any caffeinated beverages and, lastly, foods that have nitrates, such as bacon, hot dogs, and salami.
  • Strong odors
  • Weather shifts, including barometric pressure changes
  • Sleep changes — Getting too much or too little sleep.
  • Hormonal shifts — This applies most commonly to women—fluctuations in estrogen, caused by menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause, may cause a migraine.
  • Physical activity — Extreme physical exertion (by any means) may potentially trigger a migraine attack.

Other Risk Factors

There are a variety of other risk factors.

  • Weight — Women who are overweight or obese have a greater risk for migraine headaches than women with a lower BMI.
  • Age —  The majority of people experience their first migraine as a teenager.
  • Gender — Seventy percent of migraine sufferers are women.
  • Genes — 90 percent of people with migraines have a family history of the severe headaches.

How You Can Identify Your Migraine Triggers

Migraine Triggers and How to Avoid ThemYou can try keeping a headache journal or record to identify triggers. Record it every instance you experience a migraine headache. You should make sure to write down the time of day your headache began; all the things that you ate or drank in the 24 hours before the headache; what you were doing and where you were when the symptoms of the migraine began; and lastly, if you have any other medical situations that might have caused the attack.

If you’re a female, make sure to note if you are menstruating. If you consume any drugs to relieve symptoms, make sure to note dosage information. Also record if that drug helped and how soon you started feeling better.

Take this diary with you to your next appointment. Your doctor can study it to identify possible causes. Begin by avoiding those things to try to stop another migraine for happening. If one does happen again, note that information so that you can give it to your doctor.

Avoiding Migraine Triggers

Try to avoid whatever risk factors you can to help prevent your migraines. Avoiding them may allow you to live a pain-free life. Stay away from all food or drinks that make headaches worse. Use common sense — if you know a particular smell brings on a migraine, try to avoid it. Lastly, if possible, formulate a daily routine that is less likely to initiate a migraine headache for you.

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*The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the Editor. Results may vary from person to person and cannot be guaranteed.

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