Understanding Your Migraine Triggers

Understanding Your Migraine Triggers

The throbbing, pulsating one-sided headache that often characterizes a migraine attack can be quite debilitating. About 36 million Americans experience migraine headaches which last anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days. Although the causes aren’t clearly understood, it is well established that migraines can be triggered by certain factors. Understanding and avoiding these triggers may help better manage your symptoms.

  • Food triggers: Salty & processed foods as well as certain drinks like wine, alcohol, or too much of caffeine are common food triggers. To be considered as a trigger, your migraine symptoms should occur within 24 hours of food consumption.
  • Sensory stimulus: Intense sun glare, very bright or flickering lights, loud sounds, and strong smells may trigger migraine due to altered or defective processing of such stimuli in certain individuals.
  • Stress: High stress levels at home or at work, jet lag, missing meals, and abnormal sleep habits can cause increased anxiety and tension leading to migraines in some people. Others may suffer from “letdown migraines” with the headaches occurring on the weekend while resting after a stressful week at the office.
  • Exercise: Sudden increase in physical activity or exercise can result in migraine. However, a regular routine of moderate physical exercise can reduce frequency of headaches.
  • Changes in the weather: It has been suggested that alterations in barometric pressure that occurs during weather changes can trigger migraine attacks.
  • Hormonal changes: About 85% of migraine sufferers are women and it has been attributed to changes in hormone levels during mensuration, pregnancy, hormonal contraception, and menopause.

Keeping a detailed migraine diary to monitor the timing, duration, frequency, and severity of symptoms and their correlation with the food and other activities or events will help identify your personal triggers. This information can help your headache specialist create a personalized plan to effectively manage your symptoms.

North Suffolk Neurology is a full-service Neurology, Headache Medicine, and Sleep Medicine practice consisting of dedicated, experienced staff dedicated to helping our patients and their families maintain and improve their health. To schedule an appointment, please call: (631) 364-9119.

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