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What triggers a migraine?

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Some common triggers include:

  • Stress. This is one of the most common triggers. When you’re stressed, your brain releases chemicals that can cause the blood vessel changes that can lead to a migraine.
  • Foods. Some foods and drinks, such as aged cheese, alcohol, and food additives like nitrates (in pepperoni, hot dogs, lunchmeats) and monosodium glutamate (MSG) may be responsible for up to 30% of migraines.
  • Caffeine. Getting too much caffeine or withdrawal from it can cause headaches when the level in your body abruptly drops. Blood vessels seem to get used to caffeine, and when you don’t have any, you may get a headache. Caffeine itself can be a treatment for acute migraine attacks.
  • Changes in weather. Storm fronts, changes in barometric pressure, strong winds, or changes in altitude can all trigger a migraine.
  • Having your period
  • Feeling very tired
  • Skipping meals
  • Changes to your sleep

From: Migraine Headaches WebMD Medical Reference

SOURCES: National Headache Foundation: "Migraine."

Stewart, W. February 1997. Annals of Neurology,

Daroff, R. Saunders, 2012. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice, 6th edition,

Medical Clinics of North America, March 2009.

News release, FDA.

Reviewed by Lawrence C. Newman on May 23, 2018

SOURCES: National Headache Foundation: "Migraine."

Stewart, W. February 1997. Annals of Neurology,

Daroff, R. Saunders, 2012. Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice, 6th edition,

Medical Clinics of North America, March 2009.

News release, FDA.

Reviewed by Lawrence C. Newman on May 23, 2018

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Is migraine hereditary?

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