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Migraine headaches are often brought on by one specific trigger or by the combination of several factors. Although broad categories of triggers are known, not all who suffer from migraines share the same triggers. In fact, most migrainers are likely to have their own specific list of triggers.

Migraine triggers can be divided into the following general categories:

Food and beverages:

  • Chocolate
  • Cheese (usually soft cheeses are worse)
  • Cured Meat
  • Caffeine (Coffee, Tea, Red Bull)
  • Red wine

Hormonal factors:

  • Menstrual cycle. Many women experience migraines either at mid cycle with their ovulation or at the end, just before their menses start.
  • Pregnancy
  • Menopause
  • Oral contraceptive and Hormonal Replacement Therapy (HRT)

Behavioral Factors:

  • Missing or delaying a meal
  • Lack of sleep or to much sleep
  • Fatigue and Exertion
  • Too much exercise

Emotional Factors

  • Stress and Anxiety
  • Crying
  • Anger and Frustration

Environmental Factors

  • Very bright, flickering or fluorescent lights
  • Loud noise/music
  • Strong odors, perfume and cigarette smells
  • Gasoline, paint or tar smell
  • Weather change especially those creating change in the barometric pressure
  • Allergens

Chemical Factors

  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Nitrates often found in red wine

You can reduce the number of migraines by up to 50% by simply avoiding your triggers.

Some are obviously out of your control like weather change for example, but many others are entirely avoidable.

Here are some tips on how to take control of your migraine headaches:

  1. Eat your meals at regular times every day.
  2. Always carry healthy snacks with you in case you need to delay or skip a meal due to unforeseen circumstances.
  3. Sleep 7-8 hours per night and try to maintain a regular sleep routine.
  4. Avoid exposure to overly bright lights (sunlight reflected from the snow, sand or from water) and always have your sunglasses on hand.
  5. Avoid prolonged exposure to flickering lights from the TV or computer monitor.
  6. Limit driving at night.
  7. Avoid fluorescent lights at your home or work environment.
  8. Avoid smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke.
  9. Avoid food and beverages that you know are specific triggers for you.
  10. Keep well hydrated throughout the day.
  11. Limit your coffee intake to a maximum of 2 cups per day.

Several preventative medication and therapeutic medications exist to treat migraines. This will be the topic of another full blog in the future. I did however want to briefly mention that the newest approved therapy for migraine and chronic headaches in Canada is Botox Therapeutic injections. I have been offering this service at my Ottawa Cosmetic Clinic for a few years now and have seen many patients enjoy the benefits of these easy and quick in-office treatments.

After receiving Botox Therapeutic injections for their headaches, patients typically experience:

  • – less frequent headaches,
  • – less severe headaches,
  • – headaches of shorter duration,
  • – less associated symptoms with their headaches and
  • – decreased need for medication.

If you are wondering if this might be part of the solution for your circumstances, it will be my pleasure to discuss this with you in more details.

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