Identifying migraine triggers is the first step toward handling them and making your life migraine-free. Here are a few common triggers that you may not have thought of.
Derived from the Greek word “hēmikrania” which stands for “half-head”, migraines are severe recurrent headaches that generally affect one side of the head. There are many different types of migraines, and while some last for a few hours, some can even go on for up to three days! In her 1979 essay “In Bed”, Joan Didion wrote, “That no one dies of migraine seems, to someone deep into an attack, an ambiguous blessing.” It is needless to say that migraines hamper your ability to function and complete daily tasks such as working on computers or even getting ready for work. However, this does not mean that you have to grin and bear it all the time. Knowing what triggers your migraine can help you keep the problem at bay.
Migraines differ from regular headaches in a number of ways. In general, you know you have a migraine when you are feeling more than three of the symptoms described by the abbreviation POUND.
History shows us that migraines have been around for the better part of 7,000 years! With more than 300 million people across the globe suffering from migraines today, there is a substantial amount of research work being conducted to figure out the causes and medical solutions for this condition. However, the answer to what causes migraines remains fuzzy, simply because researchers can’t seem to zero in on exactly why migraines happen.
While there is no direct cause-effect relationship, there are a number of triggers that can give rise to this condition. These triggers may be specific to the person suffering from migraines. Once you figure out what your migraine triggers are, it is possible to avoid them and stave off the chances of getting a debilitating migraine headache.
A migraine trigger is any event or circumstance that sets off or causes a migraine. Avoiding all the triggers all the time may not be possible. However, once you begin to keep track of your migraines and triggers, it may be possible to identify and ward off most triggers, thereby, reducing the instances of migraine headaches.
Stress is the most common trigger for migraine headaches. Excessive stress, and accompanying changes such as lack of sleep, disrupted sleep and meal schedules, are known migraine triggers. While some people suffer migraines when they are most stressed out, others feel the pounding begin once the adrenaline rush has dimmed. For example, you may have worked at a breakneck pace for a few days, and the “weekend” migraine hits you just as you start to relax.
Suffering a blow to the head, excessive smoking, fatigue, irregular sleep and meal patterns classify as physical factors that may trigger a migraine. Overexertion in the form of physical activity and excessive exercise, particularly if you are not used to exercising, may also cause a migraine.
Studies show that approximately 30% of all migraines are triggered by eating specific foods. In general, a particular food may be a migraine trigger for you if it causes a migraine within a day of consumption, and consistently does so at least 50% of the time you consume that food item. Some of the common food triggers include:
Exposure to sudden changes in weather conditions (increased humidity or temperature) and loud noises are known to trigger migraines. Some strong musky or floral fragrances and perfumes may also irritate the nose and trigger a headache. Some people may be more susceptible to migraines after inhaling second-hand smoke or exposure to flickering and bright lights.
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