Top 10 Migraine Triggers and How to Deal with Them

The sudden onset of a migraine means a dark room, bed and a cool towel for most of us. While these seem to come out of nowhere, many will find that there are usually some signs that a migraine attack is on its way. These signs can reveal a pattern in your symptoms, and even provide you with preventative tools for managing migraine. Everyone has different triggers, but there are a few common culprits that affect a large number of people living with migraine. When you can identify your triggers, you are one step closer to effectively managing your migraine and avoiding future attacks.

Tips for managing the 10 most common migraine triggers

1. Stress

Perhaps the biggest culprit of all, stress is a trigger for almost 70% of people with migraine, and one study revealed that 50-70% of people had a significant association between their daily stress level and their daily migraine activity. When you add the perpetual worry of when the next attack will strike, it can start to feel like a never-ending, exhausting cycle.

How to cope: Start by making a list of the things known to cause you undue stress and tension, and then work towards reducing these triggers in your life. Biofeedback, relaxation therapy, meditation, exercise andmaintaining a consistent sleep schedule can be extremely helpful in managing stress. These strategies will not eliminate all stress from your life, but they can change your body’s physiological response to stress and thus reduce the ability for stress to trigger a migraine attack.

2. Changes in or an irregular sleep schedule

The connection between migraine and sleep is undeniable. Sleep renews and repairs all parts of the body—including the brain—so it makes sense that when your sleep schedule becomes irregular, you are more prone to migraine attacks. Something else to note when it comes to sleep: Nearly half of all migraine attacks occur between 4:00am and 9:00am, putting people at a greater risk for developing a sleep disorder.

How to cope: Try to go to bed at the same time every night, and aim to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep. Eliminate TV, texting, reading, and listening to music while in bed, and try your best not to nap during the day. This article from the AMF Resource Library has great information and tips on how to make a sleep plan that works with your lifestyle.

3. Hormones

Women are three times more likely to have migraine than men, and up to 75% of women find that they experience attacks around the time of their menstrual period. This is called “menstrual migraine,” occurringonly during a women’s period due to the change in estrogen and progesterone levels.

How to cope: Besides changes in lifestyle and diet, there are some methods of birth control that can stabilize hormone levels and therefore prevent future migraine attacks. Make sure to meet with a headache specialist and/or your gynecologist so you can find the right treatment plan.

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