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Migraine Triggers


Migraine triggers and other migraine headache symptoms can come from many sources. So often we are looking for just one thing that causes headaches when in reality it is a combination of many factors. Are you absolutely sure you know what are your migraine triggers?

I know that I have said this on other pages of this site, but if you have not read this yet, the most frequent cause of headaches in general is stress.

Although most of the time I am referring to psychological stress, physiological stressors can also be a migraine trigger. I have had numerous patients tell me they had a bad headache the day after a surgical procedure. Surgery is a physiological stressor on the body.

Quite frankly, until you are able to recognize the issue of stress, and accept this, you might not have much success in getting these headaches under control. The effects of lifestyle on headaches cannot be underestimated.

Depression and anxiety can greatly affect your headache profile and are recognized by headache experts as a being a cause of a worsening headache profile.

Now wait!! Before you dismiss the idea, up to 85% of all chronic pain sufferers have depression and/or anxiety to some degree.

It's almost like the chicken and the egg..which came first? Pain and depression impact each other..the more pain, the more depressed you feel and then that makes the pain worse. If you have a headache, doesn't crying or being upset make it worse? This is the anxiety fueling the headache.

Along the same vein, if you have headaches or migraines on a regular basis, are missing school, work and family outings, you are bound to feel a bit depressed.

Additional Migraine Triggers

After stress, the most common thing that provokes a migraine are hormonal headaches for women and for men it is barometric pressure changes followed by food triggers. Women get barometric pressure headaches also, but not as frequently as menstrual or hormonal headaches.

Another common trigger is food items. There is some thought in the headache community that this may be related to improper management of food sensitivities. (The previous link will lead you to a page where you can download a free ebook on food sensitivities.)

Here are some common food triggers:

  • red wine
  • alcohol in general
  • onions
  • nitrites in meats (bacon, lunch meat)
  • msg, aspartame
  • aged cheese such as blue cheese
  • excess caffeine (more than 2-3 cups per day)

Speaking of caffeine, how much do you really drink? Many products, drinks and over the counter medications, contain much more caffeine than you think. This is important because caffeine may cause headaches.

Finally, one common trigger is too much or too little sleep. It is VERY important to maintain regular sleep for about 6 months when trying to get headaches under control. This means going to bed and getting up about the same time every day (even weekends!). This re-establishes the normal biorythyms of the brain.

There is more information on this site about additional migraine triggers.

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