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Things That Can Cause a Migraine

Migraine Triggers

So I recently told you about five surprising things that may cause a headache, so I figured we may as well take it a step further and look into what causes a migraine — headache's evil brother — too. If you suffer from migraines then you may be interested to learn these simple migraine triggers:

  • Not getting enough to eat.
  • Not getting enough sleep.
  • Exposure to bright lights or loud noise.
  • Fluctuating hormone levels, such as during your period.
  • Changes in the weather.
  • Emotional factors, such as stress or anxiety.
  • Chocolate, alcohol, nicotine, or foods with additives such as MSG.


Join The Conversation
KateFox KateFox 9 years
Being dehydrated is a MAJOR cause of migraines. Replacing the amount of water we should be consuming a day with all the soda, diet drinks, and coffee is not healthy. Women especially need more water than we are giving ourselves. If you are feeling the start of a migraine a BIG glass of water and then a coke can help. Its strange but the caffiene can remedy the constricting of blood vessels. The cause, however, has to be treated and thats where the water comes in. K
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
Mine seem to come out of nowhere...
lickety-split lickety-split 9 years
temp changes of 30 degrees plus in 24 hours always give me a migraine. i usually wake up in the middle of the night feeling "funny" but i'm to out of it to know why. the next day it starts over my eye and w/i an hour i can't see out of that eye and any sound or light makes me nearly vomit. i took something once for migraines, a perscription from a friend when my dh was out of town and i just couldn't deal. it took away the headache, but the part pf my head where the migraine was felt "numb". lasted 48 hours. weird. luckily i only get these a few times a year.
laurini laurini 9 years
The estrogen thing was a huge problem for me. Being on low-dose pills helps, as well as knowing when my estrogen level is going to drop so I can take medicine and actions to prevent what I can. I knew pretty much everything on this list (plus the smells as someone mentioned above) but I do hate how many people do not respect or believe them. I avoid chocolate unless I know the brand (Nestle products are a killer for me - something in the additives) and a lot of people have told me to my face that it's all "in my head" and that it's just a "headache"
poissondujour poissondujour 9 years
A couple docs told me that estrogen buildup (from birth control pills) can be a trigger, but another, less publicized trigger is estrogen withdrawal - from the placebo week of the pill. Those can be a monster.
Jennyusagi Jennyusagi 9 years
I just found out my "headaches" as I called them really are migraines. I don't get any of the other symptoms, but the pain on one side that throbs is signature of them I just found out at my neurologist appointment. So this post was perfectly timed. I'm tracking stuff via Twitter to try to find my triggers. There are a few more things on this list I wouldn't have thought to log like sleep, hormones and weather. Thanks!
wackdoodle wackdoodle 9 years
I'm not even gonna argue this - but stress is not a "migraine" trigger. Migraines are not psychological and therefore stress and emotional upset are not triggers. Stress can trigger a tension headache which is often confused for a migraine. This is somethign that leads people to TRIVIALIZE a migraineurs suffering and say "you should just do this or that" which can lead to death from ignoring the seriousness of an attack. If a person is a migrainuer and they end up with a tension headache for some biological reason the tension headache, which is not a vascular headache, will almost certainly be converted by the migraineurs body into a chemical signal that "triggers" the tension headache to convert into a migraine attack. Again migraine attacks are vascular while the tension, cluster and other head pain is not. Which is why most migraineurs who are under the care of a neurologist are given migraine abortives and instructed to take the abortive medication at the first sign of headache pain regardless of whether its a migraine or not, because it will more than likely convert into an attack.
DreaAST DreaAST 9 years
This is funny b/c I just was feeling like I am getting a migraine. I think it's b/c of not getting enough to eat. I need to head to the kitchen now!
poissondujour poissondujour 9 years
Red wine is a common trigger... any food with high levels of tyramine could trigger a migraine. The levels increase as food ages, though, so red wine vinegar is worse than red wine itself. Does anyone else have an issue when people just dismiss their migraines as a "headache"?
ElectroPopTart ElectroPopTart 9 years
I'd also add: Tastes and Smells, believe it or not.
bellaressa bellaressa 9 years
Controlledspin, you are so right. I always know I have migraine comin from the stress between my neck and shoulders get too stiff. Sometimes, it's smelling someone's fragrance.
alysun alysun 9 years
I didn't realize MSG does. I have migraines ALL THE TIME! But I got into a pretty bad car accident where I was rear-ended. So my triggers come from anything that stems from my neck being uncomfortable too long. Sitting too long, sleeping wrong, airplanes rides (sometimes, long car rides) it is annoying. But I think that I have finally found a medication with my neurologist that will slow down the rate at which I get them
controlledspin controlledspin 9 years
Being dehydrated (or not drinking enough) also does it. One thing that my Mom and I found (we both get migraines) is that the tiny little piece of peanut that connects the two halves together also triggers migraine's in some people.
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