10 Common Migraine Triggers to Watch Out for

Migraine Triggers to Watch Out for
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If you’ve ever suffered the throbbing, pounding pain of a migraine, you would probably do just about anything to get them to stop. While there are a number of migraine triggers, here are some common ones to watch out for—and learning how to cope with them can help you in your migraine health.

Altering Sleep Habits

Getting too little sleep, or too much sleep, can trigger a migraine, so try to stick to a regular sleep schedule.

Work on getting 7 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night. Try going to bed at the same time each night. To help prevent insomnia, limit the amount of caffeine and exposure to light you get before bed, including television.

The Stresses of Life

 Stress and anxiety can be a major trigger of migraines. They can also make an already painful migraine worse. Learn how to reduce stress through relaxation exercises, physical activity, or talking out your problems. Even if you’re someone who is always on the go, try to take time out to do something you truly enjoy. Be good to yourself.

Overusing Pain Medications

Regular use of pain medication—even over-the-counter products like acetaminophen and ibuprofen—can cause migraines to increase in frequency and intensity. This is known as a rebound headache or medication overuse headache.

Your Hormone Fluctuations

Hormones that contribute to a woman’s menstrual cycle can also trigger migraines.

As a result, certain hormone therapies may result in more frequent migraines. If you are sensitive to hormones, discuss your birth control options with your doctor. A birth control pill that is low in hormones, or a non-hormone birth control option, may work better for you. In addition, using birth control pills that limit monthly hormone fluctuations may also be beneficial.

Being Exposed to Certain Smells

Scents can trigger migraines in some individuals who are sensitive to smell. Common scent triggers include flowers, perfume, cleaning products, pain, and dust. Inhaling cigarette smoke, whether you are smoking yourself or are exposed to second-hand smoke, can also cause a migraine.

Dreaded Food Additives

Food additives, such as MSG and nitrates, are a common migraine trigger. MSG is sometimes found in certain kinds of fast food, ramen noodles, and canned soups and vegetables. Nitrates are typically in processed or cured meats, like cold cuts, hot dogs, and bacon. Aspartame, a sugar substitute, may also trigger migraines in some individuals as can tyramine, is often found in pickled foods, aged cheeses, and foods containing yeast.

Being Exposed to Bright Lights

While sensitivity to light is a common migraine symptom, being exposed to a sudden, bright light can actually trigger a migraine. This can include bright sunlight or fluorescent lights. It’s also important to be mindful of glares, such as those on your computer screen, or reflected sunlight that can appear suddenly and cause a migraine. If you know that your migraines are triggered by bright light, it may be advisable to wear sunglasses and a hat when out in the sun or in a room with a bright light.

Skipping Meals

Fasting or missing a meal can easily bring on a migraine. This is thought to be a result of low blood sugar, although the precise cause is not known. So take care of your body by eating regular meals and drinking water to avoid dehydration.

Your Mood

Do you notice a connection between your mood and your migraines?  There is a link, albeit complex, between migraines and psychiatric conditions, like depression. Treating your mood will not only help you feel better but may also help your migraines. Please speak with your doctor if you are concerned about your mood or behavior lately.

Caffeine Intake

Your daily cup of joe might have turned into three cups of joe, which can worsen your migraine disorder.

Likewise, missing your morning cup of joe can also precipitate a caffeine-withdrawal headache. Moderating your caffeine intake will likely help your migraines in the long-term.


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