Controllable and Uncontrollable Migraine Triggers

The pain associated with migraine headaches is caused by a physiological reaction within the cranial blood vessels. There are, however, many environmental triggers that can cause that biological reaction. Some of these triggers are, thankfully, somewhat controllable. On the other hand, some of them cannot be controlled at all, at least not unless you undertake a lifestyle change.

UNCONTROLLABLE MIGRAINE TRIGGERS

Weather

Weather changes is one of the most common, not to mention probably being the least controllable, triggers for a migraine. Most people who suffer from migraines need not invest in a barometer to know when the pressure is dropping.

Those living in hurricane areas can tell days beforehand if one of those monster storms is on the way. Any drop in the barometric pressure that occurs in combination with an approaching warm front should be considered a possible trigger for an intense migraine episode.

If there remains any doubt that those who claim weather changes coincide with their headaches, consider that a study conducted by The New England Center for Headache resulted in 51% of respondents showing sensitivity to weather patterns. While no one can control the weather, if your headaches are simply unbearable you might very well consider moving to somewhere with a significantly different climate.

Environmental factors

Among the many environmental factors that affect frequency of migraine headaches that are difficult to escape and almost impossible to control are intense odors and aromas, fumes, tobacco smoke and bright lights. With the increased move toward marginalizing cigarette smokers and the banning of smoking from an ever-increasing multitude of public places, it is becoming somewhat easier to escape from tobacco smoke.

Escaping from bright lights may be easy at home, but when you are at work its going to prevent a challenge unless you have a very accommodating boss. As for smells, you are going to have to do some work to figure out which particular odors are pulling the trigger. Once you figure it out, then you can decide on how much trouble it will be to eliminate them.

Hormones

Often it isn’t until young girls begin menstruation that migraines begin. One possible explanation for this is has to do with low levels of estrogen and hormonal fluctuation around the onset of puberty.

The good news is that many women report that migraines completely disappear after menopause. Unfortunately, many other women report that their migraines increase in intensity around the same time. Beware of engaging in hormone replacement therapy or taking oral contraceptives as well, as both could possibly increase the frequency of migraines.


Migraine Triggers That Can Be Controlled

Sleeping and waking routines

Either too much sleep or too little sleep can become a trigger for a migraine. Its difficult to control getting more or less, but if you can establish a routine and develop sleeping habits that can be followed religiously every day, then you may be surprised at just how quickly your migraines hit the road.

Food triggers

Various studies have pointed the finger at food as being the primary culprit when it comes to triggering migraines. Indeed, some studies have concluded that up to 25% of migraines may be caused by dietary factors. Many foods, food additives and other food-related constituents contain chemicals that affect blood pressure and it is this effect on the constriction of cranial vessels that triggers the migraines.

Among those chemicals that are found in food that have been linked to migraine development:

      Tryamine – found in some cheeses, red wine, pickled fish, and certain types of processed meat.
      Phenylethylamine
       Sodium
      Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
              Histam 5

Among the foods that have been identified by the National Headache Foundation as playing a role in migraine development are:

  • Chocolate, cocoa and carob
  • Nuts (including peanut butter even though peanuts are not a nut, but a legume)
  • Citrus fruits, bananas, figs, red plums, and raisins
  • Beans
  • Pickles, marinated food.
  • Dairy products
  • Aspartame (NutraSweet)
  • Overripe fruits
  • Fermented products: soy sauce / breads with high yeast content.
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