How to Avoid Common Migraine Triggers

Migraines are throbbing, often disabling headaches that are sometimes accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to certain noises, smells, or light. For many, migraines are triggered by certain foods, smells, and other conditions. Although over-the-counter and prescription medications are often needed relieve migraine pain, being aware of common migraine triggers is an important part of managing and avoiding migraines. Below are some of the most common migraine triggers. If it is often difficult to identify a trigger, so it can be very helpful to keep some type of journal to record your migraines and exposure to the following triggers.

Common Triggers

1. Skipping Meals: Migraines occur as a result of changes of the blood vessels in the brain, and skipping meals can often cause changes in blood pressure and blood sugar that can result in a migraine. To avoid this, make sure you stay on some type or schedule in terms of meals and eat smaller meals or snacks throughout the day.

2. Changes in Sleep: Sleeping too little or too much can often trigger a migraine. Try to avoid sleeping in on the weekends. When you do this, you also indirectly skip meals. If you are tired, it is better to get up at a regular time and a take a nap later in the afternoon.

3. Visual Triggers: Bright lights and reflected light can often trigger a migraine. Consider wearing a pair of polarized sunglasses when outdoors to avoid your exposure to this type of light. The flashing light from a computer screen or television can also trigger a migraine, especially if you are already tired or straining to focus on the screen. The best way to avoid this is to limit your time on the computer and television, and if you wear glasses or contacts make sure your prescription is current.

4. Smells: Cigarette smoke, paint, and other strong odors are common migraine triggers. Be aware of your surroundings and avoid these smells whenever possible. Let those close to you know about your migraines and your sensitivity to these smells.

5. Food Triggers: Many foods and preservatives are common migraine triggers. Below is a list of some of the most common food triggers. Keeping some type of journal can really help you identify which items on the list might be a trigger.

Caffeine: While too much caffeine can trigger a migraine, an abrupt withdrawal can have the same effect. If you drink caffeine, try to limit yourself to 2-3 cups per day. If you decide to reduce your caffeine intake, do so gradually. Be aware that some medications, like Excedrin Migraine, contain caffeine.

Aspartame: This artificial sweetener is found in diet sodas and other sugar free foods.

Alcohol: Alcohol is often a trigger for many migraine sufferers. Red wine, in particular, can often trigger a migraine.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG): This seasoning is often found in Chinese food, Ramen Noodle seasoning, and soy sauce. Make sure you check the label before purchasing these products.

Aged Cheeses: Aged cheeses contain tyramine, a very common migraine trigger.

Yeast: Freshly baked breads and other yeast products can trigger a migraine. They contain yeast, which also contains tyramine. Commercial breads usually do not trigger a migraine.

Cured Meats: Deli meats, bacon, and hot dogs are usually at the top of the list for migraine triggers. Fresh meats, however, usually do not trigger a migraine.

Sodium: Excessive sodium intake raises blood pressure, which can lead to a migraine. Avoid foods that are high in sodium. Potato chips, pretzels, and canned goods often contain a high amount of sodium.

While these are some of the most common migraine triggers, this is by no means a definite list. Again, the important thing is to be aware of what causes a migraine. Keeping some type of journal can help you identify what is triggering your migraines. Also, be aware of using too many headache medications, as this can lead to rebound headaches.