In part 1 of this article, we learned a couple of techniques that can help us prevent migraines. According to Aetna’s website, one tip that can really help is to identify the triggers that may be causing it in the first place.
In general, a migraine trigger is something in the diet, your emotions, the environment, or biology that will cause a nasty headache to raise its ugly head. Many people who suffer from migraines learn that at least one trigger will often lead to pain. And in general, some triggers are more common than others.
Dietary triggers that seem to often lead to migraines for many people include alcohol and especially red wine, aged cheese like cheddar or brie, monosodium glutamate, caffeine, and canned, cured, or smoked meats. Certain medications have also been linked to migraines, like hormones and pain medications like ibuprofen. Yes, you read that right—pain medication can lead to migraines, due to what’s called a rebound effect from the medication. Once you know which foods or drinks seem to lead you to a migraine, you can try eliminating them one at a time until the headaches subside.
Environmental triggers include bright sunlight, perfumes or other odors, cigarette smoke, and the weather. Now that I’m in my early 40s, I’ve become a bit of a walking barometer. Just last week I woke up with a mild migraine and wondered why I had one. Then I looked outside and saw the heavy clouds and change in weather and knew—going from sun and blue skies to overcast rainy conditions will often trigger a migraine.
Biological triggers include being very hungry, being sleep deprived or getting too much sleep (I know, it seems like an oxymoron but it can really happen), and your menstrual cycle. And emotional triggers include stress, either something that is currently happening or has recently ended.
Speaking of stress, a key way to prevent migraines is to figure out ways that work for you to keep your stress level as low as possible. In a perfect world, you would just avoid whatever stressful situation causes you to get a migraine. But in many cases, this is not a realistic goal so it’s better to find ways to cope.