7 Common Potential Triggers of Migraine


The headache called Migraine

In the previous article, we discussed the different types of headaches and how to identify them but let us check migraines.

Migraine headache is one of the most common headaches, usually moderate but be severe in some cases. A number of things can trigger a migraine, you may need to pay close attention to pick out what triggers your own. Knowing the triggers can help you to take steps to avoid recurrent episodes of the headache.

Below is a list of common potential triggers of Migraine you be aware of.


1. Drinks

Consumption of alcoholic drinks (such as red wine, beer) and highly caffeinated beverages can trigger a migraine.

Caffeine has pronounced effects on the brain. Withdrawal from caffeine after a prolonged exposure has been found to cause headaches which can last for days.

Excessive alcohol consumption often leads to a hangover which may subsequently cause headaches.


2. Foods

A number of patients have reported the onset of migraine with certain food intake. Some examples of such foods include chocolate, cheese, cured meat like sausage, hot dogs, and ham. Phenylethylamine a substance contained in chocolate has the capacity to alter brain blood flow or trigger the release of certain chemicals leading to migraine. The caffeine content of chocolate also makes it a potential trigger.

Preservatives used in cured meat and food generally can potentially trigger migraines. Nitrites and Monosodium glutamate (MSG) are common examples of such preservatives.

MSG has been found to cause contraction of blood vessels, stimulate certain receptors in the central nervous system, or lead to the release of nitric oxide. All these effects can potentially trigger recurrent episodes.


3. Skipping meals

In a bid to lose weight, many people skip their meals. Going for long without food is risky especially if you discover you are prone to a migraine attack.

Studies have shown that almost half of people with migraines have attacks if they fast.

Though not scientifically proven, it is believed that the body produces stress hormones, which activate chemicals in the brain responsible for migraines.


4. Stress

The more stressed you are, the more the likelihood of coming down with migraine headaches.

The release of stress hormones in the body is known to activate chemicals in the brain which have the capacity to trigger migraines.

Habits such as clenching your jaws and/or grind your teeth when stressed also have the capacity to cause headaches on their own.

Other triggers include;


5. Sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation leaves your body in a state of restlessness and anxiety. Insomnia (lack of sleep) is a proven trigger of headaches including migraines.


6. Hormonal changes

Fluctuating estrogen levels is a potent trigger. Many women have onset of migraine at menarche, some during menstruation and after menopause.

Oral contraceptive and other hormonal therapy may also trigger or worsen the symptoms.


7. Weather changes

Some migraine sufferers are very sensitive to change in weather. Weather changes may cause imbalances in brain chemicals, including serotonin, which can prompt a migraine. Extreme temperatures, bright sunlight, dry air, high humidity etc are potential weather-related triggers

Other potential stimuli include flashing light, strong odor, very loud noise, reading for long hours (book/laptop), etc.



  1. The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy

Nineteenth Edition.

2.  www.vbhealth.com.ng

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