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How Many Migraine Triggers Do You Have?

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Migraine  related image Photo: Getty Images

If migraine headaches are affecting your life, you need to explore and recognize the triggers.

For example, you're out to lunch and are having a salad with some feta cheese sprinkled on top. Feta cheese could be one trigger. Add a little wine with that cheese and there's another possible trigger. Having salad and wine at the same table with an exasperating boss could be a third trigger. At that point, you are ready to go home because you have a raging migraine headache.

It's difficult to pinpoint what exactly triggers a migraine and, consequently, you may have several triggers. The following is a list of some migraine triggers provided by the Mayo Clinic and my experience with each one:

Hormonal changes: I would count on a migraine at the first and fifth day of my period every month. The fluctuation of estrogen is a particularly common migraine trigger. I'm allergic to Motrin, but I hear that provides relief in some women. Personally, I would have to call in sick, place a cold pack on my head and rest quietly in a dark room.

Foods: red wine and alcohol in general would bring on a migraine, but I have found that drinking lots of water before, during and after a night out helped tremendously. Alcohol is dehydrating so it's important to remember that before going to a function where you may be indulging. Other food triggers include aged cheeses, chocolate, aspartame, overuse of caffeine, and monosodium glutamate.

Stress: anxiety is difficult for to control but I'm learning new holistic methods such as breathing, meditation, yoga, and massage therapy.

Sensory stimuli: in my case, my sense of smell becomes particularly perceptive just before a migraine begins. I suppose I could call it an aura. When I notice a strong odor but other people can't smell it, I know something unpleasant is about to happen. I used to ignore it but now practice the deep breathing technique or take a pill.

Changes in wake-sleep pattern: if I don't get enough sleep or go to bed late and sleep in, I'm usually doomed by a migraine the entire next day.

Add a Comment3 Comments

Hi Vonnie,
Couldn't agree more!

June 7, 2011 - 8:42pm

Hi Mamta,
I've discovered recently (from my massage therapist) that posture is a biggy for me, too. I don't get enough exercise and sit at my computer way too long. My neck is out of whack, too. Geesh - what we do to ourselves it's no wonder we have migraines! My goal is to take care better care of myself - you should, too. :)

Thanks for sharing your triggers!

June 7, 2011 - 11:52am

1. I go down courtesy hormones pre or post-periods.
2. Water is a biggie with me too.
3. Other marginal operators are - posture at work, going too long without a snack and even long exposure to strong sunlight

Thank you for sharing info on migraines:)

June 7, 2011 - 11:00am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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