The Top Migraine Triggers

By | November 11, 2016
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A migraine trigger is any change, event, physical act or external stimuli which can potentially result in a headache. Typically, these triggers precede the attack by a very small interval, which could be as much as up to five to eight hours. However, the prospect of identifying the real trigger is always a daunting task. Nearly any factor may trigger a migraine attack in an individual predisposed to these conditions, and this implies that the number of possible suspects is numerous and confusing.

In most instances, triggers might be wrongly identified. Have a look at this scenario; at the beginning of the attack, you might experience a craving for sugar. If you take some chocolate in a bid to satisfy that sugar craving and get a headache after that, you might identify chocolate as a potential trigger. However, have you forgotten that you started to feel a migraine even before consuming the chocolate? One of the best ways of knowing triggers is by keeping a detailed diary. With this, you can notice a pattern of possible triggers which occur during a particular time.

The article discusses some of the top migraine triggers, stay tuned and peruse through.

10. Stress.

Stress refers to your reaction to a particular change which requires you to either respond or adjust. According to a study by the Chicago Medical School, stress and migraine are strongly linked. In fact, excitement, anxiety and any form of shock and tension can all lead to migraine attacks. Sufferers of a migraine are believed to be increasingly responsive emotionally. Ironically, others report that their migraine attacks begin when the stress reduces. This occurs as weekend headaches’ when, after a stressful and busy week, a person might experience a migraine at the weekend, when he/she is more relaxed. There are lots of ways which you can employ and manage your stress including:

• Maintaining emotional composure.

• Attempting to directly alter the source of the stress.

• Engaging in problem-solving.

• Asking others for support.

• Having realistic expectations; by accepting that, there are situations you can never change.

9. Loud sounds and Bright lights.

The top migraine triggersSome patients report that loud sound, flickering, pulsating or bright lights are potential migraine triggers. These allegations are backed by a European Neurology article, which states that indeed, sunlight is a primary migraine trigger for some people. If you suspect that sunlight might be the migraine trigger in you, you can seek relief from:

• Wearing a hat.

• Wearing sunglasses.

• Avoiding sunny places.

8. Menstruation.

For most women, their menstrual cycle is a major trigger. Researchers have revealed that the estrogen drop is the cause for this. Attacks occur a few hours before or during their respective periods, or, for other women, during ovulation. Additionally, as women approach menopause, the extreme fluctuations regarding the estrogen levels might also trigger migraine occurrence.

7. Inadequate sleep.

Not having an adequate sleep is perhaps the most common factor linked to migraines. Also, excessive sleep is cited as a potential migraine trigger as well. Changes in work schedule and jet lag are also related to the headache onset. Insomnia is the famous sleep disorder linked with a chronic migraine. It is also crucial to understand that insomnia sufferers are at a significant risk for depression and anxiety. If you suspect that sleep is a factor to your migraine, you can change your sleeping patterns.

6. Food additives.

The flavor enhancer Monosodium Glutamate (M.S.G) and the artificial food sweetener Aspartame can potentially trigger a migraine. This is according to various experiments done at Washington University School of Medicine. There is strong evidence that clinical depression patients might experience acute symptoms after taking these food additive substances. It would be wise avoiding these additives.

5. Dehydration and hunger.

Migraine sufferers would do well to stop skipping their meals. Studies consistently reveal that skipping meals is heavily linked to the onset of a migraine. However, it remains a misery how this happens. Some studies have gone ahead to connect it with the falling blood sugar levels.
On the other hand, dehydration has been suggested as a potential migraine trigger. Failure to take enough water has been proven to cause a headache. A small migraine sufferers survey showed that insufficient fluid intake was linked to migraine onset among forty percent of the respondents. It’s high time you start incorporating fluids into your daily diet.

4. Physical activity.

Very intense exercise activity can trigger migraine headaches. A recent study conducted at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, found out that thirty-eight percent of patients suffering from migraines experience exercise-triggered migraine attacks at a particular point in time. Most individuals with an exercise-induced migraine indicate that their headaches start with neck pains. You should, therefore, substitute your high-intensity sporting activity with a low-intensity one, so as to prevent future attacks. Read How To Eliminate Your Migraines With Simple Exercise.

3. Active or odd smells.

Usually, migraine patients report that unusual or strong smells trigger their conditions. In most occasions, they name perfume, specifically, as the trigger. Also, close to fifty percent of migraine patients cite an intolerance for the smell at the time of attacks. This scenario is referred to as Osmophobia and is a unique case among migraine patients.
During episodes of a migraine, the affected individuals said food smells, scents including perfumes and cigarette smoke were the most frequently offensive. A recent study concluded that those with Osmophobia were more prone to depression and anxiety.

2. Overuse of medication.

It has been revealed that the overuse of medicines is perhaps the most common trigger of a migraine. Specifically, individuals who use conventional analgesics are more likely to move from occasional headaches to a chronic migraine. This may result in more regular problems, and possibly, increased pain as well. Even though it is unknown why taking too many analgesics might make the migraine condition worse, it is clear that the so-called rebound analgesic headaches must be addressed when curing migraine.
Also, the overutilization of the drugs in the opioid category is specifically likely to be linked with the continuous migraine development.

1. Caffeine.

coffeeToo much consumption of caffeine might lead to the onset of a migraine attack. You can try having less than four to five cups of tea, cola or coffee in a day. Some individuals also may find that immediately after stopping caffeine consumption, they experience a migraine. If you suspect this, it is advisable that you gradually cut down on caffeine. It is important to indicate that caffeine can also be found in other products such as chocolate and a host of counter painkillers.

The Bottom Line.

The above-described factors are the most common migraine triggers, according to various studies conducted by highly competent researchers. However, just remember that migraine triggers are different for everyone, implying that these factors here on our list are only suspects’ but not convicts.’ You should narrow it down according to your personal triggers, probably by keeping a migraine diary to aid you to single out the ones bringing you trouble. Check Out Our Top Recommendation.

4 thoughts on “The Top Migraine Triggers

  1. Maureen

    Thank-you for your information concerning what can trigger a migraine. I find it interesting to note that finding what triggers your migraines is an actual individual journey. Although various triggers can be identified those may not be the triggers that cause your migraine. This information ties in nicely with your other post concerning keeping a diary. Since triggers vary from migraine sufferer to migraine sufferer the only true way to remember what yours are is to keep track of them. I am curious though is there a certain age when a person will start to have migraines?

    1. Ilias Post author

      Sadly, it affects all the ages but it is most common to start around 20 – 30 years old. Another interesting fact is that migraines affect more often women than men.

  2. lilywong

    Hi Ilias, great article on migraine. It sometimes boggle me why I get all headach-y – turns out migraine can occur when we are exposed to certain triggers. For me I think dehydration and physical activity are the culprits. Caffeine raises my heart palpitations, but I think it also triggers a migraine if coffee is too strong. Thanks for sharing this. It’s been very insightful indeed!

    1. Ilias Post author

      Hi Lily, the best way to understand what is trigger our migraines is by keeping a migraine diary. We may have only one trigger or we may have more. If we do not track our daily habits and symptoms we will never learn. Click the link above to read more.


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