Being able to identify your triggers can help you avoid migraines. How can you identify them?

Keeping a migraine diary is very helpful. Read on to know more about triggers. Some important points about triggers:

  • They are not the same for every migraineur
  • They accumulate, meaning that the more triggers are present on a given day, the higher the risk for a migraine attack.
  • Some triggers are underestimated (such as fasting and dehydration) and other overestimated (chocolate and certain foods).
  • Some attacks come without any obvious trigger.


Triggers and examples
Types of triggers Examples
Hormonal variations (in women) Menstrual period (drop in estrogen levels)
First trimester of pregnancy
Perimenopause (unstable estrogen levels)
Some contraceptive methods (variable among women)
Food Skipping meals
Late breakfast
Coffee withdrawal
Alcohol, aspartame, monosodium glutamate (MSG), chocolate, cold cuts, aged cheese, sulfites (wine)
Some patients have reported other foods to be triggers.
Stress Negative stress (illness, anxiety, difficult situation, depressive episode)
Positive stress (planning a great event)
Sensory stimuli Harsh lighting
Loud sounds
Specific odours (tobacco, gas, perfume)
Sleep Lack of sleep, disrupted sleep
Sleeping later than usual (which unfortunately often leads to caffeine withdrawal)
Physical activity Intense exercising (often combined with fasting and dehydration)
Sexual activity (it can also provide relaxation and pain relief)
Environmental conditions Heat, humidity, change in air pressure
Smog, air quality, chinook
Allergens, seasonal allergies (sinus irritation)
Medication Consult a doctor or pharmacist, many possibilities.

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