About Migraine Triggers

By Christy R.

About Migraine Triggers

The pain of a migraine headache may be a symptom of tension, hormones, diet, or other causes. Get effective relief by identifying your headache triggers.

By Christy R.

OverviewMigraines refer to the recurrent, severe headaches experienced by some patients as a result of a neurological condition in which the cranial blood vessels expand. The migraine headaches, while painful, are a symptom of the underlying condition. Other symptoms often occur with the headaches, including nausea and/or an increased sensitivity to smells, sounds or light. Although migraines can be difficult to diagnose, according to the National Migraine Association, there are approximately 36 million Americans who suffer from migraines.CausesMigraines are caused by a neurological disorder in which certain triggers cause vasodilatation (the expansion of cranial blood vessels). This vasodilatation causes the nerve endings to release neurotransmitters, including serotonin. The release of the nerve endings and the expansion of the blood cells causes migraine symptoms. The National Migraine Association believes there is a genetic component to the disease, with children of migraine sufferers being 50 percent more likely to also be migraine sufferers.TriggersCertain triggers cause the dilation of the blood vessels that leads to the migraine. There may be a wide variety of triggers, and triggers may differ for every patient. Some common triggers are controllable, like eating certain foods. Other common triggers are not controllable, like weather patterns.Controllable TriggersSome common controllable triggers include exposure to bright light, exposure to chemicals or certain smells, smoke or second hand smoke, alcohol (especially red wines or scotch) and certain foods. While food triggers may differ for everyone, common food triggers include chocolate, cheese, fish (especially fish that is high in nitrates), MSG, beans, chili peppers, bananas, avocados, bread with high yeast concentration, bacon, sausages, whole milk, sour cream, artificial sweeteners and vinegar.Uncontrollable TriggersBarometric pressure drops, warm fronts passing, humidity, heat and rain are all identified by the National Migraine Association as potential weather conditions that can trigger migraines.

Migraines may also develop more frequently around the time of your menstrual periods, or during the first trimester of pregnancy, due to fluctuating estrogen levels.Identifying TriggersIdentifying triggers can be an important breakthrough in treating migraine sufferers. Triggers may be difficult to identify because they vary for everyone. Keeping a migraine diary to look for patterns in your migraines may help you to identify your triggers. An elimination diet may help you to identify food triggers. An elimination diet is a diet in which you eliminate all the possible trigger foods from your diet, and slowly add them back in one by one to see which, if any, triggers a migraine.ResourcesreferenceMigraines.org

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