Total Wellness Articles 5 Common Migraine Triggers and How to Avoid Them

5 Common Migraine Triggers and How to Avoid Them

Oftentimes a full blown migraine can be avoided if we can nip it in the bud.  But in order to do so, we have to have some sense of what causes it in the first place. There are a number of very common things that can trigger migraines in susceptible people.  If you have migraines even occasionally, here is a short synopsis of 5 of the most common migraine triggers:

It is believed by many migraine sufferers that foods containing tyramine are some of the worst migraine triggers.  This chemical is found in many foods that are aged or preserved such as cheese, processed meats and wine. It can also form in leftovers that have been stored in the fridge for several days. Tyramine causes blood vessels to dilate and this action could be what sets the migraine process in motion.   Another suspected ingredient that seems to play a significant role is MSG, a preservative common in processed foods.

For a long time, researchers have identified barometric pressure as a cause for headaches, and it has more recently also been indicated as a cause for migraines as well. The theory behind this is based on the fact that changes in outside pressure result in changes in oxygen to the brain, which may in turn cause blood vessels to dilate in order to compensate for this.  Weather headache triggers have become significant enough that web sites such as even have an aches and pains forecast!

Any situation that involves hormonal changes such as pregnancy, puberty, menopause or hormone therapy is considered a definite migraine trigger.  Many women find that menstrual cycles and the starting and stopping of oral contraceptives to be their most significant trigger of all.  Studies indicate that there is a definite connection between serotonin, our brain’s “feel good” hormone, and estrogen.  When estrogen drops, so does serotonin, possibly resulting in a migraine.

For some whose migraines can’t be directly related to triggers from food, the weather or hormones, it is often much more difficult to determine the source.  If you are having difficulty identifying your migraine triggers, it might be wise to look to an environmental source such as air pollutants, cigarette smoke, perfumes and air fresheners or perhaps even the paint or wood finishes in and around your home.

Stress as a trigger for migraines is the one element that really hasn’t yet been positively documented. It is more the way a person deals with stress that actually becomes the trigger.  For example, someone who grinds their teeth may find that doing so can trigger the onset of a headache.