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Posted on 05-28-2018

Nobody who has ever dealt with a migraine episode would want to voluntarily repeat the event.  Even if your migraines only happen every once in a while and seem to come on out of nowhere, if given the time to take a deeper look, many will find that there are certain things that actually trigger their migraine attacks.  No two migraine sufferers are alike, and everyone has different triggers. However, there are a few common culprits that affect a large percentage of people living with migraines. If you are able to identify your migraine triggers and avoid them, the potential to deal with less frequent, less intense episodes becomes more of a reality.

A Closer Look at 8 Common Migraine Triggers

#1 – Your morning cup of coffee

Some migraine sufferers find that avoiding caffeine altogether helps to reduce the number of episodes they experience.  If you suspect that caffeine might be a trigger for you, then quitting cold turkey can also be problematic and cause a migraine.  Tapering down your caffeine intake over a few days or even weeks can help you to avoid migraines that occur as a result of caffeine withdrawal.  It's important to remember, too, that caffeine is not just found in coffee. It's also found in many teas, chocolate, energy drinks, and even in some medications such as over the counter painkillers.

#2 – Sleeping in on the weekend

Sleep can be a factor for migraine triggers for several reasons.  Changes in sleep routine, like sleeping in on the weekend when you usually wake up early during the week, can be to blame for the onset of a migraine episode.  Getting too much or too little sleep can also be problematic. Most migraine sufferers do best when they keep a consistent sleep schedule. Going to bed and waking up around the same time every day (even on weekends and vacations) might help minimize this trigger.

#3 – Changes in the weather

Sudden changes in environmental pressure or temperature can be trigger factors for migraine sufferers.  Other environmental factors that might be contributing factors include changes in altitude, high humidity levels, glare from the sun, and thunderstorms.  While it's true that we can't control the weather, limiting your exposure to these environmental extremes and planning your daily schedule accordingly (I.e. walking the dog in the morning before it gets too hot outside) can help mitigate these factors.

#4 – Your cell phone or computer screen

For many migraine sufferers, certain light conditions can trigger a migraine.  This extreme sensitivity to light can come from many sources – the sun, fluorescent lights, flickering lights, as well as the light emitted from your computer or device screen.  To help cope with sensitivity to natural light, you can wear sunglasses while outside. To handle sensitivity to light from artificial devices like your screens, you can try glasses that are designed to filter out electronics' blue light which is a known migraine trigger.

#5 – Stressful events

Stress might be the number one trigger for the majority of migraine sufferers.  About 70% of people with migraine report that dealing with a stressful event has triggered a migraine attack.  Stress comes from a myriad of sources – work, relationships, finances, and health concerns, just to name a few.  Even the stress and worry about when your next migraine episode will arise can cause a vicious cycle of suffering.  Stress can't be eliminated completely but learning certain tools to better manage stress can help to reduce the frequency of migraine episodes.  Getting regular exercise, meditation, practicing yoga, and making sure you're getting enough sleep can all help you cope better with the inevitable stresses that might come your way.    

#6 – Certain medications

Some common medication can actually be to blame for migraines, even if they are helping other symptoms or conditions.  Oral contraceptives introduce synthetic hormones that can trigger migraines. Some anti-depressants designed to alter chemical balances in the brain can also be a problem for migraine sufferers.  If you a chronic migraine sufferer who relies on prescription medication to manage your episodes you might be experiencing a condition known as medication overuse headache when you actually start to develop more headaches because of the medication itself.

#7 – Common foods and food additives

Food-related triggers can vary greatly from one migraine sufferer to another.  If you do have food triggers, then once you're able to identify them they can be easily avoided.  Here are some of the most common foods and food additives that can be problematic:

  • Processed meats

  • Fermented foods (like pickles or sauerkraut)

  • Aged cheeses (like blue cheese, feta, or brie)

  • Artificial sweeteners (like aspartame) found in diet soda and foods

  • MSG

  • Chocolate

  • Citrus fruits

Keeping a log or journal of your food intake to see if there are any correlations between what you're eating and when your migraines occur can help you to identify any potential dietary triggers.

#8 – A glass of wine

Alcohol, in general, might be a trigger for migraines.  About one-third of migraine sufferers say that consuming alcoholic beverages can trigger a migraine attack.  Wine, though, contains high levels of histamines and tannins that can be especially difficult for migraine sufferers to handle.

How to Migraines Naturally and Effectively

If you are able to identify triggers and do your best to avoid them, that can be a great first step towards finding the relief you're looking for.  But even eating the cleanest diet, doing your best to reduce stress, and making healthy lifestyle changes might not be addressing the root cause of your condition.  Migraine sufferers have been finding natural, long-lasting relief with a particular form of chiropractic care called upper cervical chiropractic.

As the name implies, upper cervical chiropractors focus on the proper alignment of the upper part of the neck.  It is no coincidence that a majority of migraine sufferers have neck pain during an attack. A specific misalignment of the atlas vertebra, the uppermost vertebra in the neck, can be a big factor when it comes to finding and fixing the root cause of the problem.  An atlas misalignment can cause abnormal blood flow between the head and neck, abnormal nerve function, and disrupt the flow and drainage of cerebrospinal fluid. Any of these changes can trigger a migraine episode.

If you suffer from migraines, whether they come every so often or chronically, then having your neck examined by an upper cervical chiropractor is the next logical step towards finding a solution.  Upper cervical adjustments are very precise which allows us to use much less force to accomplish the desired result. To find out more about how we can help, contact us for a complimentary, obligation-free consultation.

References:

https://americanmigrainefoundation.org/understanding-migraine/top-10-migraine-triggers-and-how-to-deal-with-them/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/migraine-headache/symptoms-causes/syc-20360201

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