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Migraines & Headaches Health Center

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Migraine Triggers: Your Personal Checklist

Things that can trigger a migraine headache include foods, drinks, activities and exercise, medications, stress, too much or too little sleep, bright lights, hunger, odors, and hormones, among other factors.

To figure out what causes your migraines, print the list below. Then check for triggers at the first signs of a headache. Review the list every few weeks or months to see if you can spot a pattern. Chances are, the items that get the most checks are your triggers.

Recommended Related to Migraines/Headaches

Understanding Headache -- Symptoms

If you feel a dull, steady pain that feels like a band tightening around your head, you may have a tension headache. If you feel throbbing that begins on one side and causes nausea or sound/light sensitivity, you may have a migraine. Visual disturbances, such as flickering points of light, may precede a migraine headache. If you feel a severe pain around one red, watery eye, with nasal congestion on that side of your face, you may have a cluster headache. If you feel a steady pain in the area...

Read the Understanding Headache -- Symptoms article > >

After you've narrowed down what affects you, talk about the list at your next doctor's visit.

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)

_____ Lunch meats (cured with nitrites or MSG)

_____ Menstrual periods

_____ Medications

_____ Noise (excessive)

_____ Nuts

_____ Odors

_____ Onions

_____ Salty foods

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

_____ Skipped meals

_____ Stress

_____ Television or movie viewing

_____ Weather (changing conditions)

_____ Others

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on September 19, 2014

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