Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Migraines & Headaches Health Center

Font Size

Migraine Triggers: Your Personal Checklist

Migraine triggers can include foods, beverages, activities and exercise, medications, stress, sleep deprivation, bright lights, hunger, odors, hormones, and other changes.

To help determine what triggers your migraines, print the list below. Then check the list for potential migraine triggers when you get the first signs of an attack. After a few weeks or months, review the checklist to see if you can find a pattern for your migraine triggers. While triggers can be tricky to determine, chances are that the items that get the most checks may be your key personal triggers.

Recommended Related to Migraines/Headaches

Occipital Neuralgia

Occipital neuralgia is a neurological condition in which the occipital nerves -- the nerves that run from the top of the spinal cord at the base of the neck up through the scalp -- are inflamed or injured. Occipital neuralgia can be confused with a migraine, or other types of headache, because the symptoms can be similar. But occipital neuralgia is a distinct disorder that requires an accurate diagnosis to be treated properly.

Read the Occipital Neuralgia article > >

After you've narrowed down migraine triggers that may affect you, take the checklist to your next doctor's visit and discuss these triggers. Your doctor can give you additional medical advice about how to prevent migraines by avoiding migraine triggers and taking necessary preventive migraine treatment.

The Migraine Trigger Checklist

_____ Aged cheeses

_____ Alcohol (red wine, beer, whiskey, champagne)

_____ Artificial sweeteners 

_____ Caffeine (excess intake or withdrawal)

_____ Chocolate

_____ Citrus fruits

_____ Cured meats

_____ Dehydration

_____ Depression

_____ Diet (skipping meals or fasting)

_____ Dried fish

_____ Dried fruits

_____ Exercise (excessive)

_____ Eyestrain or other visual triggers

_____ Fatigue (extreme)

_____ Food additives (nitrites, nitrates, MSG)

_____ Lights (bright or flickering; sunlight, particularly glare)

_____ Lunchmeats (cured with nitrites or MSG)

_____ Menstrual periods

_____ Medications

_____ MSG

_____ Noise (excessive)

_____ Nuts

_____ Odors

_____ Onions

_____ Salty foods

_____ Sleep (too much, too little, other changes)

_____ Skipped meals

_____ Stress

_____ Television or movie viewing

_____ Weather (changing conditions)

_____ Wine (red)

_____ Others

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Richard Senelick, MD on July 15, 2014

Today on WebMD

woman receiving acupuncture
14 alternative methods for migraine relief.
woman with migraine
Get the truth about migraines.
 
headache in the bedroom
Keep headaches from ruining your sex life.
desert heat
12 surprising headache triggers.
 
woman with migraine
Quiz
drinking coffee
Article
 
Migraines Headaches Basics
Article
acupuncture needles in woman's back
Slideshow
 
young woman with migraine
Articles
spraying perfume
Article
 
man with a headache
Article
headache in the bedroom
Article
 

Special Sections