10 Common Triggers of Migraines


There is nothing fun about having a migraine. They can disrupt your entire life. There are days that you can’t even get out of bed, much less think about making it to work. There isn’t a single aspect of your life that isn’t affected. The goal of this article is to put all the common triggers in one place so that you can start to find patterns in how you feel. Being able to avoid triggers can help you avoid pain medication that can sometimes do more harm than good. We did the research so that you can spend less time researching and more time living your life migraine free.

1. Stress

Being under a lot of stress can change your body chemistry. That is one reason why stress is a common trigger. You might want to think about decreasing your workload, finding extra help, or learning to manage your stress better. If it isn’t possible to lower your stress, it is possible to learn how to handle it better. Find a healthy stress reliever like a hobby. Some people like to color or draw. Other people choose to crochet or knit. You could also attempt to keep a journal. Just sit and write down the thoughts for the day. You might be surprised how much something so simple can really mean a new start. Planning daycations or staycations can also help a lot more than you might realize.

2. Disruption or change in sleep

There are a lot of factors that could potentially change your sleep. Stress can keep you up at night. Worrying about a love one can cause you to lose sleep. Starting a new job or changing positions may change when you need to wake up. Medications can cause insomnia. There are a few things you can do to help your brain shut down so you can sleep. First, put all your electronics in another room. All electronics let off an electromagnetic pulse that can affect the REM cycle. By putting them in another room, you may get a better quality of sleep. Second, cut out all your caffeine by 1 pm. That way it can work its way out of your system and you can get to sleep faster. Third, initiate a sleep routine. This is where you do the same things every night before bed. Before long, you body will realize that this routine means you are done for the day and will be ready to shut down at bed time. Finally, write it out. Write down what is worrying you or stressing you out so that your brain isn’t trying to work through problems when you should be sleeping.

3. Hormones

A hormone imbalance can cause migraines. For some women, they can tell the different parts of their monthly cycle by the amount of migraines hat that they get. While birth control can help with the migraines caused by your cycle, it isn’t always an option. This is one time when having pain pills will come in handy.

4. Alcohol / Caffeine

As tempting as it is to grab a drink after work with friends, it may be what is causing your migraine. Alcohol causes dehydration. Dehydration is a more serious cause of migraines because it causes problems with all of your body systems. If you want to avoid dehydration, you should drink at least half your body weight in ounces every single day and avoid alcohol, especially over drinking or regular drinking. An occasional glass of wine is not the same as getting drunk. In fact, red wines do have their own health benefits.

Caffeine can cause many issues. Not only can it overstimulate your nervous system, it can also cause you to overeat. You should limit your caffeine or avoid it altogether if you suffer from migraines. The funny thing about caffeine is some people say that it helps their migraines. A cup of coffee or an Excedrin may very well stop a migraine. However, too much caffeine and you are overstimulated, unable to sleep, and may not feel well. Learn your limit and try to stay under it.

5. Smell

Just like some smells can get rid of a headache, some smells can make them worse. Chemical smells like harsh cleaning products can make migraines worse or trigger them. Cigarette smoke, animal smells, or even gasoline may be a trigger smell for you. The best thing you can do is to keep a journal. Note the smells you dealt with and then when your migraine appeared. You may be able to avoid those smells and avoid the triggers altogether. It may take some time to find the trigger, but you will be glad you spent the time.

6. Weather

Sometimes the weather can change suddenly. It can be sunny one day and freezing the next. There could be pollen or allergens in the air. All of this can affect your breathing and oxygen levels. These can trigger migraines. While you can’t avoid the weather changes, you can get some allergy medications that may help you adjust to some of the changes that the weather brings. The pressure of traveling may also be a trigger. Even if you don’t take a plane, it may be hard to adjust to new weather conditions and humidity of the places that you are visiting.

7. Diet

Chemically processed foods, like convivence foods or fast foods, can cause you to have migraines. Try to avoid msg, aspartame, and nitrates are often common triggers. Its best to eat whole foods with no additives. Try to avoid processed foods, canned foods, or foods that have ingredients that you can’t pronounce. Avoid added sugars or “diet” drinks. Water is your best friend. It will help you to cut the cravings for junk and sugar. Remember making it at home is better for your health and may help you to avoid a migraine. Try writing down everything that you eat and take note of when you get a migraine. You may be able to rule out any triggers caused by unknown allergies.

8. Dehydration

Dehydration is the most preventable of all the triggers. When you are dehydrated, you can actually prevent your brain from being able to make the connections that it needs. Besides migraines, dehydration can also cause brain fog, fatigue, food cravings, and even painful joints. Try to drink one half your body weight in water everyday. Avoid sports drinks and sodas that tend to dehydrate you more. If you wait until you are thirsty to drink, you are already dehydrated.

9. Lighting

A lot of people know that sensitivity to light can be caused by migraines, few people know that the lights in your home or office may be actually triggering your migraine. Fluorescent lights, Bright lights, or even flickering lights can cause migraines because of how they affect your eyes. The flashing of video games, movies, or the screen of your computer may also cause your eyes to strain and cause you to have migraines. Limit the time that you spend on your computer. Take frequent breaks if you are indoors with poor lighting. Write down your lighting problems and correlate the to your migraines so that you can find your trigger.

10. Medications

You may already know that your medications may have a side effect of migraines. However, did you know that taking too many over the counter medications can do the same thing? Everything from headache relief to cold medication can begin to cause you issues when you are too dependent on them. If you feel a migraine coming on, instead of reaching for medications, try drinking a glass of water or having a snack. Always try natural remedies before resorting to medications. You may notice a difference in how you feel rather quickly.

We are sure that as you read through this list, you have made notes on different things to try. You may have also noticed that the advice to keep a journal is something that comes up fairly often. Here is why: Keeping a journal allows you to see your daily habits. You can see where you can make changes. Keeping track of your activities and foods may also help you to find the triggers you may not realize you had. The best part is that you can take your journal to your doctor and have a real discussion about your migraines and what you have tried to avoid them. It may make it easier to find a solution that works.

It doesn’t matter what you choose to use to keep track of your thought, ideas, and meals. You may decide that an app on your phone is perfect for keeping track of your meals. There are lots of ways to keep track, just find what works for you.

We hope that you have found this article helpful and to the point. That way you feel confident talking to your doctor about your options. There is nothing better than researching to help you to understand all your options.