8 Migraine Triggers
Published Feb 18, 2019
Migraine is a very impairing condition when it strikes. There are people that only get it once a year at most, but there are people that get them constantly. Here are some tips to identify what can be triggering your migraines, especially you, the frequent sufferers.
1. Skipping a meal
This is a risky move for migraine sufferers. Experts aren't sure exactly why, but it could affect the hypothalamus, the part of the brain that governs your body clock. It's also possible that a drop in blood sugar could set off an attack. Either way, try to eat regularly to keep migraines at bay.
2. Sleeping in
You expect that skimping on shut-eye might lead to a migraine attack—but so can logging too much sleep. Your brain does best with a consistent schedule that should be kept even on weekends.
3. Stress and lack of it
Stress is a well-established migraine trigger. But relaxing after a stressful period is an even more significant trigger. A drop in the hormone cortisol could explain this "let-down headache," which may occur at the beginning or your weekend, for example, or the day you leave on a trip. One way to avoid it is to work in small doses of relaxation (like yoga stretches or short walks) during an especially tough week or month, to prevent a build-up of stress.
4. Alcohol (Red wine)
Research has found that nearly 38% of migraine-prone adults are sensitive to alcohol. Red wine seems to be particularly problematic. But researchers have yet to determine the precise reason for booze-induced attacks. An immediate throb could possibly be triggered by alcohol's vasodilation effect. Another theory is that alcohol causes fluctuations in serotonin, a pain-regulating neurotransmitter, that trigger headaches.
5. Not drinking enough water
You know dehydration is no good for your body. For your mind is even worse, and when it lacks water, the headaches can double or triple in frequency and intensity.
6. Extra weight
Obesity raises your risk of episodic (or occasional) migraines by 81%, according to Dr. Peterlin's research. "Obesity is a chronic state of inflammation, and that can contribute to pain," she says.
7. Your period
Hormones are the second-most common trigger for migraines in women (and also the reason these headaches affect three times more women than men). Every month the menstrual cycle involves a drop in estrogen, which causes other chemical fluctuations that can make a woman more vulnerable to pain.
There's no doubt that bright light can make a migraine feel worse—which is why it helps to retreat to a dark room. "During an attack, things that normally don't bother you can become painful," explains Dr. Peterlin, like a computer glare, or even a ponytail holder or tight t-shirt. But many people believe bright light is actually what sets off their attacks.
What triggers migraines for you? How do you avoid them? Please share!