Triggers

‘Triggers’ are specific factors that may increase your risk of having a migraine attack.

Triggers do not ‘cause’ migraine. Instead, they are thought to activate processes that cause migraine in people who are prone to the illness. Most Migrainers have more than one trigger – yet a trigger may not cause a migraine every time. Triggers seem to build, so one day you may be able to have a glass of red wine and the next only a sip. Triggers compound until you reach your tipping point and then you have an attack. Also triggers can build over a number of days.

Understanding your triggers is an important part of your migraine management plan. Once you have identified your triggers, it will be easier for you to avoid them and reduce your chances of having a migraine attack.

Some triggers will jump out at you – others will be hard to find – but keeping a migraine diary can help.

Examples of triggers

Medications
Overuse of over-the-counter medications can cause rebound headaches.
Missed medication doses and certain medications may cause headaches.

Sleep
Changes in sleep patterns eg napping, oversleeping, too little sleep

Hormonal
Estrogen level changes and fluctuations eg Menstrual cycles, birth control pills, hormone replacement therapies, peri-menopause, menopause, ovulation

Environmental
Weather eg Weather and temperature changes, extreme heat or cold, humidity, barometric pressure changes Bright lights eg Bright or glaring lights, fluorescent lighting, flashing lights or screens
Odors/pollution eg Smog, smoke, perfumes, chemical odors
Other eg High altitude, airplane travel

Stress
Periods of high stress,including life changes
Accumulated stress
Reacting quickly and easily to stress
Repressed emotions
Factors related to stress include anxiety, worry, shock,depression, excitement, mental fatigue, loss and grief.
Both “bad stress” and “good stress” can be triggers. Howwe perceive and react to situations can trigger (or prevent) migraines. Other triggers can include unrealistic timelines or expectations of oneself.

Stress letdown
Weekends, vacations, ending a project or stressful task (including presentations, papers, or exams)

Physical
Overexertion / Injuries eg Over-exercising when out of shape, exercising in heat, marathon running
Visual triggers eg eyestrain (if you wear glasses, make sure your prescription is current), bright or glaring lights, fluorescent lighting, flashing lights or computer screens
Becoming tired or fatigued

Dietary Triggers
Food triggers do not necessarily contribute to migraines in all individuals, and particular foods may trigger attacks in certain people only on occasion. Be your own expert by keeping a journal of foods you have eaten before a migraine attack and see whether the removal or reduction of certain foods from your diet improves your headaches.
Skipping meals, fasting, and low blood sugar can also trigger migraines. If you’re unable to follow a normal eating schedule, pack snacks.

Beverages
Chocolate and cocoa. Alcoholic beverages (especially red wine, beer, and sherry). Caffeine (even in small amounts) may be a trigger for some people.

Fruits
Figs, raisins, papayas, avocados (especially if overripe), red plums, overripe bananas.

Vegetables
Beans such as broad, fava, garbanzo, Italian, lima, navy, pinto, pole. Sauerkraut, string beans, raw garlic, snow peas, olives, pickles, onions (except for flavouring)

Bread & Grains
Freshly baked yeast bread. Fresh yeast coffee cake, doughnuts, sourdough bread. Breads and crackers containing cheese, including pizza. Any product containing chocolate or nuts.

Dairy Products
Cultured dairy products (buttermilk, sour cream). Chocolate milk. Cheese: blue, brick (natural), Gouda, Gruyere, mozzarella, Parmesan, provolone, romano, Roquefort, cheddar, Swiss (emmentaler), Stilton, Brie types and Camembert types.

Meat, fish, poultry
Aged, canned, cured or processed meat, including ham or game, pickled herring, salted dried fish, sardines, anchovies, chicken livers, sausage, bologna, pepperoni, salami, summer sausage, hot dogs, pâté, caviar. Any food prepared with meat tenderizer, soy sauce or brewer’s yeast. Any food containing nitrates, nitrites, or tyramine.

Soups
Canned soup, soup or bouillon cubes, soup base with autolytic yeast or MSG. Read labels.

Desserts
Chocolate ice cream, pudding, cookies, cakes, or pies. Mincemeat pie. Nuts. Any yeast-containing doughs and pastries.

Miscellaneous
Nutrasweet, monosodium glutamate (MSG), yeast/yeast extract, meat tenderizer (Accent), seasoned salt, mixed dishes, pizza, cheese sauce, macaroni and cheese, beef stroganoff, cheese blintzes, lasagna, frozen TV dinners, chocolate. Nuts and nut butters. Pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds. Anything fermented, pickled or marinated. Some aspirin medications that contain caffeine. Excessive amounts of Niacin (Niacinamide is fine). Excessive Vitamin A (over 25,000 I.U. daily).

References:

5 thoughts on “Triggers

  1. I am a chronic migraine sufferer, and this blog post about triggers has been more than helpful. I had heard about creating a migraine diary before, but I never fully understood the purpose. I can definitely see why it would be helpful. I knew some food products triggered my migraines, but I was unaware that a few daily foods I’ve been ingesting could also be part of the problem. I noticed the trigger when my sleep pattern changes and when I am stressed out, To now know that too much over the counter medication could be a trigger as well will definitely help me as I continue to fight migraine headaches. Thanks for posting.

    -Laura Sposato
    http://migrainetime.wordpress.com/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s