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What Triggers A Migraine? Here's Everything You Need To Know

What Triggers A Migraine? Here's Everything You Need To Know

That throbbing pain of a migraine can last for a few hours to days. Here's how you can handle them better.

There's nothing worse that can ruin your day like the throbbing pain of a migraine. It can last anywhere between a few hours to even days. If you frequently experience them, the best thing to do is understand your triggers and finding ways to avoid them. Here's everything you need to know about migraines.

Are women more likely to experience migraines?

Migraines are more commonly experienced by women to the extent that three out of four people who experience migraines are women, according to OWH (Office on Women's Health). Women especially, between the ages of 20 to 45 are more likely to experience them and report painful, longer lasting headaches. When women experience hormonal changes during periods, pregnancy, or menopause, they might experience migraines as well.

How can you tell if you're having a migraine?

When you get a migraine, the excited brain cells are trigger what's called the trigeminal nerve. Because of this, chemicals are released and this irritates your blood vessels and makes them swell on your brain's surface. You usually feel the pain of a migraine around your eye or your temple area, according to the National Headache Foundation. The pain also occurs in other parts of your face, sinuses, jaw, and neck area.

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Often, you will feel one side of your head pulsating with moderate to severe pain. The pain can get aggravated by physical actions, including combing your hair. You might have about 5 headache attacks, which can last anywhere between 4 to 72 hours. Along with the pain, you might feel nauseous and even vomit. You may even become extremely sensitive to light and sound, and you may want to avoid them.

Sometimes, migraines might occur with what is known as an 'aura'. This is when you experience the pain along with vision loss or see spots, lines, or flickering lights. You might experience numbness or a tingling sensation (that feels like pins and needles). Difficulty saying words might also be experienced.

What are the most common things that can trigger your migraine?

When you know some of the most common triggers of migraines, you can try avoiding them and reduce the chances of a migraine attack. Sometimes, just the one thing can trigger the migraine. However, according to the author of Living Well with Migraine Disease and Headaches --- Teri Robert on Migraine Disease.com, sometimes a combination of things together can trigger an attack.

Here are some of the most common triggers.

1. Not eating your meals on time: Having an irregular schedule for meal times can trigger migraines. It's best to ensure that you don't skip meals and eat on time to avoid migraines.

2. Not getting enough sleep: Sleeping the right amount is necessary to avoid migraines. If you get less sleep or too much of sleep, your sleep cycle is irregular, or you tend to wake up at night, it could trigger a migraine. If you often wake up with a migraine, then your sleep might be the trigger. Try to get into a routine where you sleep and wake up at the same time every day.

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3. Fluctuations in hormones: If there are fluctuations in your body's level of hormones, this too, can trigger migraines. For women, the time of pregnancy, menstrual cycle, and menopause are common times when migraines might occur because of the changing hormone levels.

4. Consuming certain food and beverages: Foods that act as a trigger are different for different people. Alcohol, caffeine withdrawal, processed food (including processed meat, bacon, sausages, hot dogs), artificial sweeteners, are commonly reported as triggers, according to the American Migraine Foundation. Certain vegetables (like olives, chili peppers, and pickles) and fruits (like avocadoes, red plums, dried fruits, and citrus fruits) could also be migraine triggers. Other triggers could also be pizza, yeast bread, red vinegar, and food with MSG. When you keep a track of your migraines and try to figure out what could trigger them, know that a migraine can occur even up to 48 hours after you have consumed the food item that triggers it for you.

5. Fluctuating temperature: Any changes in the weather or when you suddenly go from a place of high temperature to a place of cool temperature (like walking in and out of an air-conditioned shopping mall to sunny outdoors) can be triggers.

6. Experiencing heat or cold: Extremely hot days or overheated rooms, as well as extremely cold weathers or being in highly air-conditioned rooms,  can also be triggered.

7. Environmental triggers: Certain smells, fragrances, perfumes, chemical fumes, room fresheners, and cleaning products could trigger migraines. Rooms with bright lights, flickering lights, fluorescent lighting, and strobe lighting could also be triggers. Staring at old computer monitors could also be a trigger.

8. Dehydration: If your body doesn't get enough water and you feel dehydrated, this could also lead to a migraine. Certain liquids like alcohol and coffee can also be dehydrating.

9. Stress and physical exertion: Several factors (like sleepless nights, crying, etc.) may come together because of stress, and they may consequently lead to a migraine. Extreme physical exertion like exercise and even an orgasm could trigger a migraine.

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What's the best thing you can do?

A great way to handle your migraines is keeping a migraine/headache diary. All you have to do is note down when you have episodes of the attacks, the time it occurred, and the intensity. Try to think of the possible triggers (food item, lack of sleep, etc.) and note them down. If you have the same food later and find that you are having a migraine again, you can start avoiding that particular food item or habit. Not only will it help you understand your migraine better, but it can also help your doctor give you the required treatment if needed.

References:

https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/migraine
https://headaches.org/2012/10/25/migraine/
https://headaches.org/resources/headache-diary-keeping-a-diary-can-help-your-doctor-help-you/
https://migrainedisease.com/essentials/triggers/12-most-common-migraine-triggers/
https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/resource-library/understanding-migraineliving-with-migraine-diet-and-migraine/
https://migrainedisease.com/essentials/triggers/avoidable-triggers-migraine-trigger-foods/

Disclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.