Migraine Triggers

Many people report that their migraines have specific triggers, which may be different for each person. Some patients seem to have no specific triggers. By familiarizing yourself with the most common potential triggers, you can learn about causes that may contribute to your migraine attacks.

Here are 11 of the most common migraine triggers reported by chronic migraine sufferers.

  1. Food and food additives: Alcohol (especially red wine), caffeinated beverages, nuts, nitrite/nitrate-preserved foods (hot dogs, pepperoni), smoked or pickled foods.
  2. Light: Strong or glaring light. Flickering lights from TV or computer screen, strobe or laser lights, or reflections.
  3. Smells or odors: Intense, specific food odors, cigarette or other smoke, perfumes, cleaning products.
  4. Stress: Migraine attacks often occur after stress – especially on weekends and holidays. Many people mistake these as tension headaches.
  5. Weather changes: High humidity, atmospheric pressure changes, rapid temperature fluctuations, and exposure to extreme heat or cold may bring on migraine attacks. Many people mistake these for “sinus headaches.”
  6. Changes in sleeping habits: Too little, or more often, too much sleep can trigger migraines.
  7. Dieting or hunger: Any change in eating habits, missed meals, change in schedule or dieting.
  8. Loud noises or sounds: Sudden or prolonged loud noises.
  9. Motion or travel: Reaction to motion sickness.
  10. Caffeine: Having more (and sometimes even having less) caffeine than you are used to can trigger migraines.
  11. Hormonal fluctuations: The frequency of women’s migraines is sometimes said to be related to hormonal fluctuation, particularly with regard to estrogen. In many women, migraines begin just prior to, or during, their monthly menstrual period, or during treatment with hormone therapy such as birth control pills or estrogen replacement

Do any of these trigger your migraine attacks? Or do you experience other migrain triggers? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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