5 Common Migraine Triggers, and How to Manage Them

Apr 05, 2024
5 Common Migraine Triggers, and How to Manage Them
Like millions of others, you live with the threat of migraines hanging over your head, and you want to find ways to better manage these debilitating headaches. Managing your triggers is a very good place to start.

Like more than a billion others around the world (yes, that’s “billion”), you suffer from migraine headaches. Closer to home, the American Migraine Foundation reports that at least 39 million Americans have migraines, but this number may be on the low side.

Whatever the final tally, you’re a part of this unlucky group, and you want to figure out some better strategies for managing your migraines. That’s where we can help.

Dr. Paul Gill specializes in neurology here at Gill Neuroscience, and migraine headaches are very much in his wheelhouse. As a result, we have considerable experience helping patients find relief from their migraines. An important step in this process is managing migraine triggers.

Two different approaches to migraines

One of the more important things to understand about migraines is that there is no cure — yet — for this common neurological disorder. 

While researchers continue to look for answers, we, as practitioners, focus on management techniques that can help control the headaches and improve the lives of our patients.

We feel that treating migraines comes down to two tactics:

  • Abortive — medications that can quickly relieve symptoms after a migraine sets in
  • Preventive — treatments to prevent the headaches, such as Botox® injections, as well as preventive practices like trigger management.

Here, we’re going to focus on the latter — preventive practices that revolve around managing your migraine triggers.

Figuring out what's triggering your migraines

While each patient has their own circumstances and health issues, and what triggers your migraines may be different from someone else’s triggers, there’s a good deal of common ground.

To give you an idea, here are five triggers that top many migraine lists:

Migraines and stress

This is one trigger that’s definitely not in short supply these days and, unfortunately, it’s the most common trigger. About 70% of migraine sufferers cite stress as a trigger. 

If you tend to develop migraines during times of emotional stress, both good and bad, it’s very much worth your while to figure out ways to de-stress. To get you started, check out these relaxation techniques.

Migraines and periods

One of the reasons women outpace men by 3 or 4 to 1 when it comes to migraines is that these headaches are often tied to hormone fluctuations.

If you suspect that your menstrual cycles are driving your migraines, it’s important that we treat you preventively — maybe with Botox injections or we might recommend that you take medications like triptans in advance of your period. 

Another solution is one or more hormone medications that can steady your estrogen levels.

Foods and additives in foods

Other common migraine triggers are food additives, such as MSG or preservatives like nitrates that are found in cured meats.

We suggest that you keep a food diary to figure out whether certain foods trigger a migraine, and if so, you can avoid that food in the future.

Changes in your sleep patterns

Did you know that nearly half of all migraines strike between 4am and 9am? To avoid these early morning headaches, keep a strict sleep schedule so you can sleep through the morning.

Dehydration and migraines

For up to one-third of migraine sufferers, dehydration is a trigger, and this is one trigger you can easily avoid by drinking enough water and fluids throughout the day. Women should drink about 11.5 cups of fluids, and men should take in 15.5 cups.

While we’ve touched on some common migraine triggers, yours may not be on this list. The best way to put a solid plan in place is to come see us so we can tailor your migraine strategies to your needs.

To get started, please call our office in Houston, Texas, at 832-912-7777, or use our online request form to schedule an appointment.