This article provides you a migraine triggers list, which will help you understand the probable reasons that can prompt a migraine attack, and ways to reduce the incidence and pain.
A migraine is a neurological disorder, which is characterized by several clinically-recognizable signs, manifesting most often in the form of very painful headaches accompanied by nausea, and sometimes, increased sensitivity to sound and light. These headaches can last for anything from 4 hours to up to 72 hours, and are most often experienced as a throbbing or pulsating pain that is experienced in one half of the head. Many attacks are preceded by what is medically known as a prodrome, which is a precursor or a set of symptoms that occur early on as a signal of an impending attack.
Identifying migraine triggers is an important defense mechanism to reduce the occurrence, since there is little data to reveal the actual cause of this condition, thereby, limited treatment options for cure. The prodrome precedes an aura, which is a perceptional disturbance, or a telltale sign that some patients inherently recognize as a precursor to the attack – it could be a specific smell, a distorted pattern of light, or a general period of confusion, although this is not common for all patients.
The compilation of a list of triggers is imperative to identify and avoid an attack. Apart from the list of foods that are triggers, there are a number of external factors that may bring on an attack. These are summarized as follows:
- Changes in weather, especially rapid barometric pressure changes, or sudden changes in temperature and humidity.
- Changes in daily routine – sleep deprivation or oversleeping, skipped meals, etc.
- Physical over-exertion or stress, injuries, etc.
- Hormone imbalance or changes, particularly around your menstrual cycle
- Visual strain, bright or fluorescent lights, anything that strains the eyes.
- Smog, pollution, perfumes, chemical smells, etc.
It’s important to understand that the triggers are different for different people, and while some are common, the only person who can truly compile an exhaustive list is someone who suffers from this debilitating condition. Identifying the internal or external factors that can set this headache in motion will enable you to avoid these factors over time.
Making a comprehensive list of all the reasons may involve going over the occurrences of a couple of days that precede an attack, and trying to identify a pattern between successive sessions. Along with external factors, there has been evidence to show that certain foods can set off a reaction, that in turn behave as triggers – this prompts the formulation of a diet that will limit the contents of meals to foods that are perceived as ‘safe’.
While identifying what constitutes such foods, remember that eating such items can prompt an attack that will actually set in, up to 48 hours after the food has been consumed. Try and record your eating habits in a food diary – this can help a good deal in the formation of a comprehensive list of trigger foods over time. There has been considerable research that can help guide you in this respect, a summary of potential foods is listed below.
In particular, foods containing tyramine, an amine compound, can be some of the most prone to set off an attack. Tyramine may cause dilation of blood vessels, which some believe can trigger an attack. It is found in high levels in chocolate and cocoa products, processed meats, and some cheeses that have been aged.
- Vegetables, in particular, beans, pickles, chili peppers, and olives
- Foods that contain soy products
- Sulfites in red wine, in addition, most alcoholic beverages
- Anything that contains MSG or mono sodium glutamate, the flavor enhancing food additive (that means many forms of outside or processed food, especially packet soups, instant noodles, and ready meals like TV dinners)
- Caffeine – although in some regular coffee drinkers, lack of caffeine can trigger withdrawal symptoms that in turn set off an attack
- Cured meats like bacon, salami, and pepperoni
- Aged cheeses
- Aspartame and other sugar substitutes
- Freshly-baked yeast bread
- Fruits, like avocados, citrus fruits, bananas, and plums
When creating a list, remember that the triggers are specific to the individual, and the above lists are guidelines that can help you identify the possible sources of triggers. Unfortunately, it may take several attacks before you are able to form a comprehensive list of the things to avoid. Some over-the-counter medication has been known to provide relief from this painful condition, but overuse sometimes triggers rebound headaches, contributing to further discomfort.
In some individuals, massage therapy, yoga, meditation, and holistic healing practices may help in overcoming stress and providing relief. Try and maintain a daily routine, keep changes to a minimum, eat at regular intervals, and rest adequately. Once you’ve identified your migraine triggers, keeping attacks at bay will become that much easier. Good luck!
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.