Migraine attacks can often seem to be completely random. With some careful observation, however, it soon becomes apparent that there are certain things we do that may be causing our headaches. These factors are known as migraine triggers, and there are numerous examples. Indeed, a list of potential triggers could go on for some time! Below are a few (by no means exhaustive) examples of the kind of things that may be responsible for our migraine attacks – and some possible lifestyle changes to help prevent these attacks.
It is perhaps unsurprising that stress is the most common trigger of migraine attacks out there. After all, it can have a huge impact on our health – both physical and mental. In fact, one study found that 80% of migraine sufferers with identifiable triggers named stress as one of these triggers.
Caffeine and Alcohol
Caffeine is an unusual trigger. Some migraine sufferers often report the onset of a headache after a cup of coffee. For others, however, the very same drink can help to alleviate their attack symptoms (some migraine medications even contain caffeine for this very reason!).
Alcohol is a little more straightforward. Red wine may well be the most commonly reported alcoholic trigger, but all wines and beers etc. have the same effect. This is because alcohol is a diuretic which means it prompts the body to excrete more water. This can have severe side effects, meaning drinking too much alcohol can lead to dehydration.
Drinking too little can have a huge impact on the body – and not in a good way. Besides dizziness, confusion, and many more side effects, dehydration is reported by as many as 1/3 of migraine sufferers as a trigger.
Fortunately, a few simple lifestyle changes can prevent your body getting too dehydrated before it is too late. Carry a bottle around with you as much as possible (you can even get ones with targets printed on the side) and take sips throughout the day.
You may find you suffer migraine attacks after you eat certain foods. Migraine sufferers often note things like cheese and chocolate as triggers. But you may find that there are dishes and ingredients that are a unique trigger to you. One of the best ways to work out which foods may well be the ones causing you problems is to keep a food diary and adopt a migraine diet that is free of common trigger ingredients.
When it comes to migraine, women are more likely than men to face the condition. Furthermore, most of them experience their attacks when they are menstruating. This is known as menstrual migraine, and is believed to linked to changes in the levels of oestrogen and progesterone in the body.
These 5 examples are just a few key ones. Some may be familiar to you. Some you may never have heard of. Migraine is an incredibly variable condition. This makes it difficult to pin-down and provide exact answers and solutions for any one individual. There are, however, techniques to help you identify the triggers unique to your condition. A migraine diary is one of the best ways to do this. By noting down when you experience an attack alongside your specific symptoms and things you have done and consumed, you will soon be able to notice patterns. With these patterns in mind, you will be able to make lifestyle changes that make your condition manageable – and your day to day life enjoyable!