The first step is to track your migraine symptoms in a diary. Note what you were doing before and when your headache came on. What were you eating? How much sleep did you get the night before? Did anything stressful or important happen that day? These are key clues.
Learn Your Triggers
When you look at your diary, you might find that these things tend to lead to a migraine:
7 Steps to Avoid Your Triggers
- Watch what you eat and drink. If you get a headache, write down the foods and drinks you had before it started. If you see a pattern over time, stay away from that item.
- Eat regularly. Don't skip meals.
- Curb the caffeine. Too much, in any food or drink, can cause migraines. But cutting back suddenly may also cause them. So try to slowly ease off caffeine if it seems to be one of your headache triggers.
- Be careful with exercise. Everyone needs regular physical activity. It's a key part of being healthy. But it can trigger headaches for some people. If you're one of them, you can still work out. Ask your doctor what would help.
- Get regular shut-eye. If your sleep habits get thrown off, or if you're very tired, that can make a migraine more likely.
- Downsize your stress. There are many ways to do it. You could exercise, meditate, pray, spend time with people you love, and do things you enjoy. If you can change some of the things that make you tense, set up a plan for that. Counseling and stress management classes are great to try, too. You can also look into biofeedback, where you learn how to influence certain things (like your heart rate and breathing) to calm down stress.
- Keep up your energy. Eat on a regular schedule, and don't let yourself get dehydrated.
What to Look for in Foods
These things are migraine triggers for some people:
- Foods that have tyramine in them, such as aged cheeses (like blue cheese or Parmesan), soy, smoked fish, and Chianti wine
- Alcohol, especially red wine
- Caffeine, which is in coffee, chocolate, tea, colas, and other sodas
- Foods made with nitrates, such as pepperoni, hot dogs, and lunchmeats
- Bread and other baked goods
- Dried fruits
- Potato chips
- Pizza, peanuts, and chicken livers
SPEAKER: Migraines can be
crippling, especially when they
come on unexpectedly.
Here are a few signs
that a migraine is coming
The first warning stage
for migraine, also called
the prodrome stage,
can happen anywhere
from a few hours to a few days
before the attack.
How can you tell?
You might be
irritable or depressed.
Or you could feel euphoria
or have excessive energy.
Some people yawn more.
And others feel an increased
urge to use the bathroom.
You might also crave things
like chocolate, cheese,
red wine, or beer.
You might have trouble
concentrating or sleeping,
and even feel tired or nauseous.
Your sensitivity to light,
sound, and odors might go up
during this stage.
The next warning stage, which
happens anywhere from five to 60
before a migraine attack,
is called the aura stage.
It can include seeing flashing
lights, zig zag lines,
or blind spots,
or hearing sounds or a ringing.
You may feel numbness
or tingling in your lips, face,
For people who get migraine,
keeping a journal can help you
track the warning signs you get.
If you watch for early signs,
you might be able to lessen
your migraine pain
How Do Triggers Work?
An easy way to think of a trigger is like a light switch. When it's flipped on, that starts a process of activity in your brain that can end in pain and other migraine symptoms.
But it's not as simple as cause-and-effect. Something that triggers a migraine one day may not have the same effect on another. You're probably more likely to get a migraine if more than one of your triggers is present.
Triggers vary from person to person. But most are related to some kind of stress, whether it's: