10 Common Migraine Triggers to Be Aware Of

2. Stress

Stress may be one of the biggest triggers when it comes to a migraine. The level of stress you experience daily can have a huge impact on how often you experience migraine. Sources of stress may include:

  • Emotional
  • Financial
  • Work-related
  • Family situations

3. Weather

Fluctuations in barometric pressure, increase in storm activity, high humidity and temperatures, and changes in weather patterns can all attribute to triggering a migraine.

4. Hormones

Changes in estrogen and progesterone levels during menstrual cycles can trigger migraine. Commonly known as a menstrual migraine, up to 75 percent of women say they experience migraine attacks around their menstrual cycle.

5. Sleep

Disruptions in your sleep pattern can trigger a migraine. Not getting enough sleep or getting too much can affect how often a migraine attack can happen. Poor sleep hygiene includes falling asleep with the television on or using your phone right before bedtime and not having a set time you get some shut-eye.

6. Caffeine and Alcohol

Caffeinated beverages such as soda, tea, and coffee are triggers for some people with migraine. Caffeine is a popular ingredient in several over-the-counter medications because it can stop or abort a migraine for those whom caffeine is not a trigger.

Red wine seems to be a major culprit when it comes to alcoholic triggers but is not the only one to avoid. Other alcoholic beverages, including white wine, beer, champagne, and liquor are also triggers.

7. Light

Sunlight, fluorescent lighting, and the backlight from televisions, mobile devices, and computer screens are all common light triggers. One of the classic symptoms of migraine is photophobia, or sensitivity to light.


The glare and wavelengths emitted from these light sources cause feelings of lightheadedness, dizziness, pain behind the eyes and nausea.

8. Smell

Strong odors are one of the most harmful triggers. The intense smell can cause an immediate migraine attack. Sometimes, coming into contact with strong odors such as these is unavoidable:

  • Chemicals
  • Harsh cleansers
  • Perfume, cologne, and aftershave
  • Body washes, lotions, and sprays
  • Cigarette, cigar and pipe smoke
  • Car exhaust

9. Dehydration

Dehydration, or not getting enough water intake, can bring on a migraine attack. The effects of dehydration on the body include confusion and dizziness and can lead to more serious medical issues.

10. Medication Overuse Headache

Formerly known as a rebound headache, medication overuse headache (MOH) is a result of taking over-the-counter or prescription pain medication more frequently than three times a week to abort a migraine. MOH is a new type of headache that pre-exists with or worsens the primary headache.

Coping With and Managing Migraine Triggers

Not all triggers can be prevented but they can be effectively managed to where their impact on how often you have a migraine attack can be reduced. Trigger management is a key component in managing migraine. Learning what your specific migraine triggers are and the most effective ways to cope with migraines will help you be healthier.

Pinpoint Your Food Migraine Triggers

Keeping a headache journal is a great way to start identifying what your food triggers may be. At the onset of a migraine, record what you ate right before it started. You may start to notice a pattern if a specific food or beverage was ingested before an attack began.

Elimination diets also help to weed out food triggers. Removing common food triggers from your diet and then slowly reintroducing them can help you figure out if they indeed trigger migraines for you.

It may seem difficult at first to give up some foods you love if they are migraine triggers, but in the long run, you and your head will be better for it.

Next page: More tips for coping with and managing common migraine triggers.

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Amy ManleyAmy Manley

Amy Manley is a certified medical writer through the American Medical Writers Association. She has a Bachelor's degree in English and writes to help educate people on various health conditions and how to cope with them.

Oct 15, 2018
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