Modern Migraine MD

8 Common Migraine Triggers

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8 Common Migraine Triggers
Everyone is unique, and so are migraine triggers. However, many people share one or more common triggers. Understanding what influences your migraines can help prevent them. Here’s a look at some of the most common migraine triggers.

If migraine headaches are making you miserable, you’re not alone. Across the globe, over one billion people suffer from migraines. And in the US, at least 40 million men, women, and children deal with migraines each year.

Whether you suffer from migraines once in a while or multiple times each week, the pain and troublesome symptoms they cause can derail your life. For the safest and most effective long-term relief, it’s essential to seek expert help.

At Modern Migraine MD, board-certified neurologist and headache expert Risa Ravitz, MD, specializes in helping patients struggling with migraines find relief. Dr. Ravitz offers services at her offices in the Manhattan area of New York City, Toms River, New Jersey, Aventura, Florida, and virtually in thirteen states. 

Dr. Ravitz also knows that stopping migraines before they start can be a powerful tool in fighting migraine pain. Understanding your personal migraine triggers helps. Here’s a look at eight of the most common migraine triggers: 

1. Your stress level

Physical stress and mental or emotional stress often increase your risk of getting a migraine. And once a migraine hits, it can add more stress, creating a migraine cycle. 

Pay attention to your stress levels, and make a note of any stressors that arise before your headaches. Using healthy coping mechanisms, like exercise, yoga, meditation, and breathing techniques, can help.

2. Poor sleep quality

Struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep can trigger migraines, and it’s bad for your overall health. Even if you believe you’re sleeping through the night, you may not get the quality sleep your body needs—especially if you have a sleep disorder.

Improve your sleep hygiene by having a bedtime routine, turning off devices and screens an hour before bed, and using relaxation techniques to help you fall asleep. Be sure to talk to Dr. Ravitz if you’re worried about a sleep disorder.

3. Alcohol and caffeine

Alcohol consumption can contribute to migraine headaches. If you suffer from migraines, consider eliminating alcohol or minimizing its consumption to special events. Frequent drinking increases your risk for migraines and impacts your overall health and quality of life. 

Caffeine can also trigger migraines because it changes the way a substance in your brain, called adenosine, works. Adenosine affects brain activity, some parts of sleep and movement, and the expansion of blood vessels.

When injected into your body, adenosine triggers migraines. Chronic use of caffeine changes the number of adenosine receptors you have and how they work. This can make you more susceptible to migraines.

Caffeine also lowers your pain tolerance and increases sensitivity to pain. During migraines, your blood vessels expand. This puts added pressure on the nerves around your brain. This pressure signals the area of your brain associated with pain. 

Caffeine can also contribute to rebound headaches especially if you drink more than one caffeine a day.

4. Not drinking enough water

For about a third of people with migraines, dehydration is a trigger. Your body needs certain electrolytes and fluids to function. When you’re dehydrated, you don’t have enough of these and migraine headaches can set in.

To avoid migraines caused by dehydration, try to drink 5-6 glasses of water a day. You can also keep track of your fluid intake to ensure you’re getting enough water. It’s also important to stay hydrated during a migraine attack to help you recover faster. 

5. Light and smells

Bright artificial light, natural light, and flickering lights or glare trigger migraines for many people. They frequently cite certain smells and odors as triggering migraine attacks as well. Since these triggers can be difficult to avoid, talk to Dr. Ravitz for personalized recommendations and treatment options. 

6. Certain foods and food additives

Many foods are linked to migraines, but the most common include:

  • Foods with MSG
  • Foods with histamine
  • Cheeses and dairy products
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Cured meats
  • Nitrates, tannins and sulfites.

Reduce your risk by avoiding these foods and food additives. Focus on eating a healthy, whole foods diet by eliminating processed foods and reaching for more fruits and vegetables. 

7. Hormonal changes or imbalances

When there’s a change or imbalance in your hormones, your risk for different health issues rises—including migraines. Women have a higher risk for hormone-related migraines from hormones shifts during their menstrual cycle and the transition to menopause. You may also have a higher risk of migraines if you use hormonal birth control.

8. Changes in the weather

Excessive heat, storms, and changes in barometric pressure are some of the most common weather-related triggers of migraines. There’s no way to change or avoid the weather. But you can talk to Dr. Ravitz about preventive migraine treatments. These can help you get ahead of migraine pain when unpredictable weather changes occur.

To learn more about migraines or for help managing migraine pain, schedule an appointment online or over the phone with Dr. Ravitz and the team at Modern Migraine MD.