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What triggers Migraines?

Migraine Triggers

About Migraine Triggers

It is not unusual that one particular trigger cause a migraine every time it happens. Sometimes there are a combination of factors that will lead to a migraine and not just one trigger happening somewhere in isolation. Sometimes even so, it may happen that one trigger might not even lead to a migraine. A series of events happen when something sets off a trigger in the brain and a chemical reaction would lead to migraine like symptoms. A lot of these have been discussed in this article.

Migraine Causes

A lot of documented cases reveal the various causes of a migraine. 

To better understand your migraines, it is a good idea to write down

as much information about your health history. You should also use

migraine journal to keep a record of each and every migraine

attack you encounter. Write down what you were doing before each

attack, anything you ate as well as the weather conditions.

This information will help your physician give you the best advice

on avoiding future attacks.

-Family History

-Hormonal changes

-Muscle tension

-Stress or anxiety


-Neck and Head Injury

Talking about Migraine Triggers, some of them are:
A lot of people who suffer from Migraine attacks often talk about how their Migraines were triggered due to alcohol ingestion. It is not uncommon for people who don't have Migraines to have Alcohol induced hangovers and hangover headaches the following morning. For people who have a history of Migraine, even a small amount of alcohol ingestion can lead to an attack. Drink to avoid? A European study has found Wine to be the main culprit behind Migraine attacks in Spain and France, owing to 11% for Red Wine and 40% for White Wine.
Food and Drinks
Many times, it is not the particular food that you are allergic to, it could be the additives, preservatives that can cause a migraine attack. While it is also seen that if a person misses a meal, or fasts for more than 10-14 hours, the body starts producing stress hormones triggering a migraine attack.
The foods that are known to cause Migraines the most:
  • Ham, hot dogs, other cured meats

  • Monosodium glutamate, MSG, commonly found in Chinese foods, soy sauce and packaged foods

  • Asparatame and other artificial sweeteners

  • Asian foods

  • Snack foods

  • Fatty foods

  • Ice cream and other frozen foods

  • Food dyes

  • Coffee, tea, cola (other items containing caffeine and caffeine withdrawal)

  • Dairy products, yogurt


Changes in the environment have also been blamed on allergies, pain and fatigue. There are also people who experience seasonal migraines, which means they have far more migraines during certain times of the year. Various environmental changes can cause triggers:

  • Temperature changes, extreme heat or cold weather, humidity, barometric pressure changes and storms

  • Odors, pollution and smells including: smog, cigarette smoke, perfumes and chemical odors

  • Lights, such as: bright lights or glaring lights, fluorescent lights, flashing lights or screens

  • Patterns, including: stripes, checkers or zigzag lines

  • Flying, jet lag, travel or motion

  • High altitude

Sexual Activity

Sexual Activity takes up a lot of energy and involves a lot of physical activity. Along with that, a lot of emotions are triggered and hormones are released into the body. Sometimes, known as "Coital Headache", it is understandable how Sexual Activity can be a big contributor to Migraine attacks. 

For head pain to be blamed on sex, the International Headache Society says the pain must:

  1. Be brought on by sexual arousal

  2. Have pain on both sides

  3. Be prevented or lessened by stopping sexual activity before orgasm

  4. Not be caused by any other disorder

The reason behind the head pain may be related to contracting muscles during sex. The attacks may be avoided by working on relaxing neck and jaw muscles during sexual activity. The explosive pain has been blamed on the rapid increase in blood pressure and heart rate during sexual climax.

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