Migraine Triggers: Your Personal Checklist

Everyday things can trigger a migraine headache -- foods, drinks, exercise, medications, stress, too much or too little sleep, bright lights, hunger, smells, and hormones, to name a few.

To figure out what brings yours on, print the list below. Then check any possible 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.

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 (getting too much or withdrawal)

_____ Chocolate

_____ Citrus fruits

_____ Cured meats

_____ Dehydration

_____ Depression

_____ Dried fish

_____ Dried fruits

_____ Exercise (too much)

_____ 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 (too much)

_____ Nuts

_____ Odors

_____ Onions

_____ Salty foods

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

_____ Skipped meals

_____ Stress

_____ Watching TV or movies

_____ Weather (changing conditions)

_____ Others

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Nayana Ambardekar, MD on February 13, 2019


American Headache Society: "Headache Hygiene Tips." 
The International Headache Society: "Epidemiology of Headache."
The Migraine Trust: "Your Triggers."
National Headache Foundation: "Migraine."

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