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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

Avoiding Exercise-Related Migraines

Being active is a key part of healthy living. But for some people with migraines, exercise can be tricky. For some, exercise can be a migraine trigger. Terrell Davis, a former Denver Broncos running back, sat out most of the second quarter of Super Bowl XXXII in 1998 because of a migraine. Yet after taking his medication, he came back to the game and was named Most Valuable Player. The good news is that there are steps you can take to make exercise-related migraines less likely. Here are four ways...

Read the Avoiding Exercise-Related Migraines 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

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