Keeping Migraines at Bay:  Five Tips to Manage Your Headache Triggers

Post Date: June 2015

Frustrated with painful migraine headaches that interfere with daily activities and cause you to miss out what you need to do?

If you are a migraine sufferer, avoiding triggers and taking care of yourself can help prevent recurring headache episodes. Read on to find out how you can take control of your migraines rather than having them control you.

1.Know about common triggers

The most common migraine triggers are:

  • Anxiety or stress
  • Certain foods and drinks, especially those containing nitrites, glutamate, aspartate, or tyramine
  • Extreme fatigue or lack of sleep
  • Hormone changes  brought on by menstruation, pregnancy, menopause
  • Hunger from skipping meals or fasting
  • Medications* such as pain relievers, hormones, and blood pressure medicines
  • Physical triggers such as head trauma and changes in pressure (being in an airplane, weather changes, and even wearing a tight hat or goggles)
  • Environmental triggers, such as  loud noises, exposure to glare or flickering lights, or strong odors from perfumes, smoke, or chemicals

2. Keep a headache diary to identify your likely triggers

If you are not sure what your migraine triggers are, consider keeping a headache diary for one month. Tracking information about your headaches can help you and your healthcare provider figure out what triggers your migraines and what improves them. There are smartphone apps and paper diaries, such as these from the American Headache Society and UpToDate.

3. Stay away from common food triggers

Here are some common dietary culprits that you might try to avoid or have only rarely:

  • Aged cheeses, such as aged cheddar, blue cheese, Roquefort, and parmesan
  • Alcohol, especially red wine and some beers
  • Citrus fruits and juices, such as oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes
  • Coffee and other caffeinated drinks
  • Cured or processed meats
  • Food additives, such as aspartame (a low-calorie sweetener used in drinks and some diet foods) and monosodium glutamate (MSG)

4. Take care of yourself to avoid stress, tiredness, and hunger triggers

  • Try to get a good night’s sleep every night. Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning.
  • Work on reducing stress in your life. Regular exercise such as walking or swimming can help you to reduce stress that may be causing your migraines. Breathing exercises or relaxation techniques may help.
  • Eat meals on a similar schedule each day. Don’t skip meals.  
  • Quit smoking. If you smoke, quit. Try to avoid secondhand smoke. 

5. Ask your doctor or Rite Aid Pharmacist if your medicines could be a migraine trigger

Talk to your doctor about the medicines you are taking and ask about alternatives. Do not stop taking any medicines without consulting with your doctor first. Examples of medicines that may trigger a migraine include prescription and over-the-counter pain relievers, over-the-counter or prescription diet pills, asthma medicines called bronchodilators, ADHD medicines such as Ritalin® or Dexadrine®, birth control pills, hormone replacement therapy, some blood pressure medicines, nitrates, and hydralazine.

These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regimen.

Sources:

Managing Migraine: How to Prevent and Control Migraine Headaches, American College of Physicians

http://www.acponline.org/patients_families/pdfs/health/migraine.pdf

Migraine, Medline Plus, National Institutes of Health:

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/migraine.html

Migraine Headaches in Adults (Beyond the Basics), UpToDate:

http://www.uptodate.com/contents/migraine-headaches-in-adults-beyond-the-basics?view=print#

The Migraine-Prevention “Detox” Plan, Intelihealth, Harvard Medical School:

http://www.intelihealth.com/print-article/the-migraine-prevention-detox-plan

Migraines, American Academy of Family Physicians

http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/migraines.printerview.all.html


These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regime.