Migraine Triggers

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Migraine is a form of throbbing headache experienced on one or both sides of the head along with nausea. It makes the patient sensitive to lights and noise and can last anywhere between 4 to 72 hrs. It actually results in expansion of arteries present on the brain’s surface when certain stimuli trigger the nervous system.

Migraine Triggers

The stimuli that can cause an increase in the risk of a migraine attack are known as migraine triggers. The migraine triggers work differently on different sensitive persons. These triggers are not constant and the same trigger need not always work on the same person. These same migraine trigger may also stimulate someone while it may not work for others. Following are the various migraine triggers categorized:

Hormonal Changes in Women

Variations or mostly a fall in estrogen levels triggers an attack of migraine during various hormonal changes resulting due to pregnancy, puberty, menstruation, menopause, and ovulation, intake of birth control pills or undergoing therapy for hormone replacement. Interestingly, in some expecting mothers migraine attacks can be noticed for the first time during pregnancy or it can work the opposite way by ceasing chronic migraines forever.

Foods and Drinks

There is a vast list of foods and drinks that are reported as migraine triggers even though no study has proved the allegations. The most common migraine triggers reported are chocolate, alcohol, cheese, bananas and citrus fruit. Even cold foods like ice-cream are among the most commonly reported triggers.

Beverages like red wine, beer, cocoa or chocolate milk, whiskey, vermouth, sherry and canned soups especially those prepared from bouillon, meat or stock extracts.

Some fruits are also known to elicit migraine. These include avocado, banana, citrus fruit, papaya, pineapple, kiwi fruit, dried fruits, raspberries, strawberries and red plums.

Migraine triggers also include vegetables like beans, chili pepper, mushrooms, lentils, garlic, onions, olives, peas, sauerkraut, rhubarb and tomato.

Diary products, meat, fish, pre-prepared sauces, artificial flavors, vinegar and certain preservatives and additives are also suspected to cause migraine outbreaks.

Migraine Related to Eating Habits

Large meals which include abundant starch, irregular meals, hunger, skipped meals, fasting and hypoglycemia too triggers migraine just like dehydration does.

Which Foods Do Not Likely Trigger Migraine?

Eating fresh fruits and vegetables, non-processed fish and meat reduces the risk of developing migraine. Apart from this, foods like eggs, rice milk, corn, non-yeast bread, cereals, natural mineral water and bulgur do not trigger migraine.

Psychological Stress

Reserved emotions, anxiety, depression, stress, worries, personal conflicts and changes in daily routine are some common reasons that trigger migraine.

Sensory Stimuli

Sensitivity to things like intense lights and flashes, UV light, noise and sunshine are some known migraine triggers. Some people experience migraine if allergic to perfumes, sharp smells, air pollution and smoke.

Sleep Disturbance

Either lacking or excessive sleeping can lead to severe headache. Working in shifts and traveling differentiating time zones are some migraine triggering factors.

Physical Causes

Physical causes like excessive traveling, high altitude, overexertion, bad posture of sitting or standing for long hours, eye strain and sexual activity result in migraine.

Health Disorders Related to Migraine

Other health conditions like head or neck pain, toothache, congested nose, sinusitis and hypoglycemia too trigger migraine.

Low blood levels of vitamin B12 and serotonin also cause severe headaches on one or both sides of head.

Medications and Supplements

Certain medicines and supplements too act as migraine triggers. These include ibuprofen, niacin, nitroglycerin, indomethacine, interferon-beta and certain sleeping pills.

How to Prevent Migraine Attacks?

Following certain precautions can prevent migraine attacks easily. Avoiding birth control pills, alcohol, excessive caffeine, cigarettes and stress can help in prevention of migraine attacks. Lifestyle changes like regular well-balanced diet, maintaining a good sleeping schedule and avoiding too much stress is the best way to keep off migraine attacks.



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