The Top 7 Migraine Triggers and How to Avoid Them

Most of us associate migraines with a dark room, a comfortable bed, and a cold towel. While these seem to appear out of nowhere, many people will discover that there are generally some warning signals that a migraine attack is on the way. These indicators might indicate a trend in your symptoms and possibly equip you with migraine prevention techniques. Everyone’s triggers are different, but there are a few common factors that influence a huge proportion of migraine sufferers. You are one step closer to efficiently treating your migraine and avoiding future episodes when you can identify your triggers.

Tips for Managing the 7 Most Common Migraine Triggers

1. Changes in Sleep Patterns or Irregularities

The link between migraine and sleep is unmistakable. Because sleep renews and restores all areas of the body, including the brain, it stands to reason that when your sleep routine becomes erratic, you are more likely to experience migraine episodes. Another factor to consider when it comes to sleeping: Nearly half of all migraine attacks occur between 4:00am and 9:00am, increasing the likelihood of developing a sleep issue.

How to deal with it: Try to go to bed at the same time every night and get at least 7-8 hours of sleep. Avoid watching TV, texting, reading, and listening to music in bed, and try not to nap throughout the day.

2. Anxiety

According to one study, approximately 70% of migraine sufferers had a strong relationship between their daily stress level and their migraine activity. When you factor in the constant fear of the next assault, it may feel like a never-ending, grueling cycle.

Make a note of the things that are known to cause you undue stress and anxiety, and then seek to reduce these triggers in your life. Stress management techniques such as biofeedback, relaxation treatments, meditation, exercise, and maintaining a consistent sleep pattern can all be extremely beneficial. These tactics will not remove all stress from your life, However, they will modify your body’s physiological response to stress, lessening stress’s propensity to produce a migraine episode.

Hormonal Systems

Women are three times more likely than men to suffer from migraines, and up to 75% of women experience attacks around the time of their menstrual cycle. This is known as “menstrual migraine,” and it only occurs during a woman’s menstruation owing to changes in estrogen and progesterone levels.

How to cope: In addition to adjustments in lifestyle and nutrition, there are several birth control techniques that can regulate hormone levels and so avoid future migraine attacks. Make an appointment with a headache expert and/or your gynecologist to determine the best treatment approach for you.

4. Caffeine and alcohol

After consuming coffee or alcohol, many people suffer an increase in migraine symptoms. Others, on the other hand, claim that a cup of coffee helps alleviate migraine symptoms, and certain migraine treatments may contain caffeine. Although migraine sufferers perceive red wine to be the most common alcoholic migraine trigger, research reveals that other forms of alcohol are just as likely, if not more frequently, to be the reason.

How to cope: Limit your alcohol consumption and be aware of your own limitations. Take your acute (as needed) medicine as soon as you notice the warning signs and symptoms of a migraine attack after drinking alcohol.

5. Weather Changes

Storms, extreme heat, and changes in barometric pressure are all migraine triggers that might result in an attack. High humidity and heat also cause dehydration, another major trigger.

We can’t control the weather, so if the present weather conditions aren’t conducive to your migraine, remain inside or change your itinerary appropriately. If you have an errand to run in the middle of July in Arizona, do it first thing in the morning before it gets too hot!

6. Abundant Medication Use

Ironically, if you experience frequent migraine headaches and use acute medications prescribed by your doctor more than 10 days per month, it might promote additional migraine attacks—a condition called Medication Overuse Headache (MOH).

How to cope: If you have MOH, you must first stop taking the medicine and eliminate it from your system before you can break the cycle of suffering. You should consult with your doctor to understand how to properly discontinue certain drugs, such as opioids or butalbital-containing medications. If you need help finding a doctor, use the American Migraine Foundation’s doctor database.

7. Diet

Foods containing histamine and MSG, chocolate, cheese and other dairy products, artificial sweeteners (e.g. aspartame), caffeine, cured meats, and anything with a strong odor are among the most common migraine triggers.

How to deal: If you can pinpoint particular dietary triggers, avoid them as much as possible. Many people also follow a migraine diet, which excludes foods and components known to cause migraines. More information on how to achieve this lifestyle adjustment may be found in our resource library.