What is Triggering Your Migraines?



Researchers, doctors and patients have been able to identify many triggers for migraines. Knowing what triggers your migraines can be beneficial to you in that you can either avoid them all together by paying attention to staying away from your triggers or at least minimizing the symptoms by taking preventative medications when you know you will not be able to avoid your triggers.

Common triggers that have been identified are reactions to food or other allergy producing substances, bright lights, loud noises, stress that is either physical or emotional in nature, changes in your patterns of sleep, exposure to tobacco smoke or being a smoker yourself, fasting, consuming alcoholic beverages, and hormonal fluctuations. Some individuals have even reported that when they have a tension headache that often triggers a migraine headache to start.

Exploring these triggers:

Food or other allergy producing substances – If you happen to have a particular food as a trigger for your migraines…the reaction is cumulative; in other words…if you eat a large portion of the food item that is a trigger for you then the corresponding reaction is going to be huge too. The food as a trigger concept is not in agreement by most researchers so whether or not a particular food is a trigger for you is determined on an individual basis.

It is probably wise if you are experiencing a food trigger for migraines that you have a food allergy skin test conducted so that you can determine if what you are experiencing is a case of food allergies with headache being one of the allergic reaction symptoms.

One more noteworthy mention regarding food and migraines is that there have been some cases where migraine suffers have noticed that if they eat at a Chinese restaurant where MSG is included in the cuisine served that they experience a migraine afterwards. Excluding all other triggers, it may be possible for the individual to be allergic to MSG and have that allergic reaction result in a headache that could trigger a migraine attack.

We do know that headaches are a symptom of allergic reactions including reactions of an allergic reaction to food and chemicals in food such as MSG. We also know that tension headaches can trigger a migraine so the connection is possible between the ingestion of MSG and the onset of a migraine. Like any other triggers the possibilities of food being a trigger needs to be explored on an individual basis between the doctor and the patient.

Bright lights and loud noises – Most of those who suffer from migraines will include sensitivity to bright lights and loud noises as a symptom of the migraine and not as a trigger. Migraines are a neurological event and as such science has many areas that are unknown. The exact cause for migraines is still largely unknown although cases have been studied on an individual basis and between doctor and patient what works best regarding things to avoid (triggers) serves the purpose.

If avoiding a noisy atmosphere such as a crowded, noisy bar helps you to avoid migraines, who is to argue? Avoiding bright lights may not be as easy to accomplish because we can control the lighting in personal spaces like at home or perhaps in a separate work environment like an office but if you work in a cubicle that you share with 20 other employees you are not likely to be able to control the lighting choice.

Stress – Physical and emotional stress can be identified using a journal or by making use of psychological counseling. Counseling is also a good avenue for exploring how to deal with these stresses. Stress induced migraines are quite common because there is an obvious link between our emotional state and our physical state.

Tobacco smoke and alcoholic consumption – These are both lifestyle choices and decisions about participating in smoking or drinking needs to be based on individual decision making processes. Certainly health concerns often force us to re-evaluate these lifestyle choices.

The unfortunate situation arises when an individual is forced to be exposed to and inhale second-hand tobacco smoke especially if that turns out to be a trigger for migraines. Avoiding second-hand smoke is not always possible if the one suffering from migraines is a child. This is where parental responsibility should kick in.

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Originally posted 2008-10-08 10:28:37. We hope you have enjoyed this Post From the Past!


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