4 Common Migraine Triggers

For the nearly 40 million men, women, and children in the United States who suffer from migraines, it should come as no surprise that migraines are the 6th most disabling illness in the world. These painful and debilitating headaches can lay you out for days at a time, which makes preventing them from occurring in the first place paramount. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to understand what triggers your migraines. 

While there are many migraine triggers, the team of headache specialists here at Spinal Diagnostics offers comprehensive migraine care, and we feel education is a critical component. With that in mind, we pulled together a list of the four most common migraine triggers, which we review here.

1. Stress

The American Migraine Foundation reports that stress can trigger up to 70% of people who suffer from migraines. Your reaction to stress is far from simply mental or emotional as your body rests in a heightened state of alert thanks to changes in your hormone levels.

These physiological changes can lead to fatigue and weakness in your body’s defenses, leaving you more vulnerable to certain conditions, migraines among them.

Now, consider that stress levels are at extremely high levels thanks to a global pandemic, and you can see why any steps you can take to reduce stress in your life are well worth taking, such as:

  • Meditation
  • Deep-breathing exercises
  • Unplugging from the news and the world
  • Taking walks

These are just a few examples of great stress-relief techniques, and you know what works best for you. The point is that you should put stress-reduction techniques into practice if you suspect they play a role in triggering your migraines.

2. Sleep

The connection between sleep patterns and migraines is close, especially if you consider that nearly half of all migraines occur in the early morning hours, between 4am and 9am.

One of the best ways to control migraines is to ensure that you’re getting the right amount of sleep each night — about 7-9 hours — and that you stick to a strict sleep schedule. For example, you might try going to bed each night by 10pm and make sure that you limit screen time before this so that you can prepare your body for sleep (screens emit light that interrupts your sleep hormones).

3. Your diet

Diet plays a big role in triggering hormones, but it would be impossible to list each of these triggers here as they can be unique to the person. To give you an idea of some of the culprits, many of our clients report that the following foods or drinks often trigger migraines:

  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Seafood
  • Chocolate
  • Certain additives, like MSG or artificial sweeteners
  • Dairy products

The bottom line is that you should keep a food diary to track which foods may trigger a migraine and avoid them in the future.

4. Dehydration

While we’re on the subject of diet, it’s crucial that you pay close attention to hydration as one-third of migraine sufferers claim that dehydration can trigger a headache. Even if you’re not feeling thirsty, you should stick to the 8-8-8 rule: Eight glasses of eight ounces of water, eight times a day.

Of course, there are many other triggers, such as hormones, weather, smells, and lights, but the four we list above are areas you should pay close attention to. We’d also like to point out that even if they’re not migraine triggers for you, reducing stress, hydrating, and getting enough sleep are great for your overall wellness.

If you’d like to learn more about migraine triggers, as well as your treatment options for migraines, such as Botox®, contact one of our three locations in Tualatin and Newberg, Oregon, to meet with one of our headache specialists.

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