Try to head off your next migraine.
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Migraines may appear to strike out of the blue, but there are actually many known triggers that cause these debilitating headaches. If you can identify your migraine triggers, you may also be able to avoid them, or at least reduce their severity. Some triggers come in the form of food and drinks that you can cut down on or eliminate from your diet; others, such as a change in season or barometric pressure, are unavoidable.
Pay attention to what you eat and drink, what’s going on in your environment and daily life, and how you feel each day. Soon, you may begin to see a connection between your headaches and one or more of the most common triggers.
Alcohol: Drinking alcoholic beverages, especially red wine and beer, can lead to migraines. If you don’t want to avoid alcohol altogether, vodka, scotch, and Riesling wine seem to be the safest choices, but you should limit yourself to no more than two drinks in one day, if you are a man, and one drink a day if you’re a woman.
Caffeine: An increase or decrease in the usual amount of caffeine you consume per day can lead to a migraine. Aim to have no more than two caffeinated beverages each day.
Environmental Influences: Changes in season, weather, altitude, and the barometric pressure can trigger migraines. While there is little you can do to control these factors, you can anticipate them and take as many other steps as possible to avoid a migraine.
Sleep patterns: Missed sleep or too much sleep can set off a migraine. Do your best to maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Going to bed and getting up at roughly the same time every day may also reduce your susceptibility.
Foods: Certain foods have been linked to more frequent migraines, including chocolate; ripened cheeses like cheddar, Stilton, Brie, and Camembert; fermented, pickled, or marinated foods; nuts; peanut butter; sourdough bread; sour cream; pickled or dried herring; citrus fruits; bananas; figs; raisins; papayas; red plums; pizza; aspartame (NutraSweet); chicken liver; sausage; bologna; hot dogs; salami; summer sausage; snow peas; broad beans; lima beans; fava beans; and foods containing monosodium glutamate, like soy sauce, meat tenderizer, and seasoned salt.
Lights: Bright lights, glare from the sun, and flickering lights from electronic equipment such as computer screens and televisions can trigger a migraine for some people. Carry sunglasses with you on bright days and avoid flashing or bright lights when possible.
Medications: Some prescription and over-the-counter medications, including antihistamines, decongestants, vasodilators, and herbal supplements, can trigger migraines. Speak with your doctor about possible alternatives if you suspect that certain medications are causing your headaches.
Motion: Travel or symptoms of motion sickness can trigger a migraine. Medications taken to prevent motion sickness might help.
Noise: Sudden or prolonged loud noises can set off a migraine. Avoid these when possible. If you must be in a noisy environment (at work, for example), use earplugs.
Physical activity: Physical exertion — exercise, sex, physical labor — can trigger migraines. If you notice this connection, avoid physical activity when other risk factors for a migraine are high, or limit the intensity of physical exertion when you can.
Smells: Some people report sensitivity to powerful odors like paint thinner, perfumes, flowers, pollution, and secondhand smoke. Do your best to avoid strong odors. Ask others to be sensitive to your needs (you may request for your co-workers not to wear perfume in the office or your friends not to smoke near you).
Skipping meals: Fasting, dieting, or skipping meals can lead to migraines. Aim to eat a balanced diet of regular meals spaced evenly throughout the day.
Stress: Some people report a connection between stress and migraines, either during a stressful situation or immediately following. Do what you can to avoid stress at work and at home, taking steps to anticipate and minimize stress when you can, and practicing stress-management techniques like deep breathing or meditation when you can’t.
Tobacco: Cigarette and cigar smoke has been linked to migraines and may interfere with migraine treatments. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about how to quit.