Migraine Triggers

Overview of Migraine Triggers

However, physicians and healthcare practitioners are aware that a variety of circumstances might cause a migraine.

Migraine triggers may include:

  • stress
  • sleep deprivation or jet lag
  • dehydration or hunger
  • foods
  • additives
  • alcohol
  • caffeine
  • overuse of medications
  • smells
  • lights and noises
  • weather
  • hormones produced by females
  • physical exercise

It is critical to never overdo or abuse any migraine medication. Medication abuse may lead to an increase in migraine episodes and persistent migraine symptoms.


Migraine may be triggered by a significant rise or reduction in physical or psychological stress. According to Danish experts, the majority of migraine sufferers attribute their episodes to stress. Other studies have shown that stress promotes migraine headaches in between 50 and 80 percent of migraine sufferers. Some patients had migraines following a stressful event, whereas others had a fresh attack in the middle of a stressful event.

Lack of sleep or jet lag

One of the most prevalent variables associated with migraine is sleep disruption. Inadequate sleep is often suggested as a cause of acute migraine symptoms. Excessive sleep is another often mentioned trigger.

Jet lag and changes in your work schedule might also contribute to migraine onset. The most prevalent sleep issue linked with chronic migraine is insomnia. People who suffer from persistent migraines and sleeplessness are more likely to suffer from anxiety or depression. These illnesses all have one thing in common: a lack of sleep. Many individuals, however, claim that sleep often cures their migraine headaches.

Dehydration or hunger

Migraine sufferers would be wise to avoid missing meals. Skipping meals is regularly connected to the beginning of migraines, according to research. It’s unclear how this will happen. It’s most likely due to a drop in blood glucose levels.

Dehydration has also been proposed as a migraine trigger. A lack of water has been connected to the beginning of headaches. In a short study of migraine sufferers, “insufficient hydration intake” was connected to headache start in almost 40% of those polled.


Certain meals or a lack of food (fasting) are regularly mentioned as probable migraine causes. Certain meals are said to cause migraine headaches in 12% to 60% of people.

According to 2008 Brazilian research, the majority of migraine sufferers had at least one trigger. One of the most often mentioned causes was diet. Fasting was the most often reported diet-related cause. The most often connected drugs with migraine attacks were alcohol, chocolate, and caffeine.

Other foods that have been linked to migraines include:

  • cheese
  • salami
  • fermented, cured, and pickled foods containing high levels of the amino acid tyramine

Additives in food

The artificial sweetener aspartame and the flavor enhancer monosodium glutamate have been linked to migraines (MSG). Experiments using aspartame have shown contradictory effects. The question of whether it has any impact on migraine sufferers remains unanswered. Some data shows that aspartame use may aggravate symptoms in those suffering from clinical depression.

MSG is used to provide a savory taste to a variety of meals. Many members of the general population think that MSG may cause headaches. The majority of controlled studies have failed to find a relationship between MSG intake and headache, or any other ailment, in healthy people. A tiny 2009 research, on the other hand, showed that MSG might cause headaches and discomfort in the face and head. It could be a good idea to avoid MSG.


One of the most regularly reported migraine causes is alcohol. In a 2008 Brazilian research, alcohol caused migraines in around one-third of the participants.

Red wine seems to be somewhat more likely than other types of alcohol to cause migraines, particularly in women. Red wine caused migraines in 19.5 percent of men and women in the study. Only 10.5 percent of those who drank white wine had a migraine. A deeper examination of the study’s data reveals that red wine affects women disproportionately. Red wine caused migraines in just 8% of males, whereas it caused migraines in 22% of women.

Highly caffeinated beverages

According to some experts, excessive coffee use might cause migraines. As a result, it’s important to keep track of how much caffeine you consume via coffee, tea, soft drinks, and energy drinks. Caffeine levels in energy drinks may be shockingly high. Caffeine withdrawal, according to some experts, may also cause headaches. Other specialists caution against excessive caffeine usage.

It’s important to remember that many over-the-counter (OTC) headache medications include a lot of caffeine. One controlled trial showed that a medicine containing acetaminophen (Tylenol), aspirin (Bayer), and caffeine was more effective than ibuprofen (Advil, Aleve) alone in alleviating migraine headache symptoms.

Medication overuse

One of the most prevalent causes of migraine is drug overuse.

People, who abuse conventional analgesics, or painkillers, are more prone to proceed from infrequent headaches to chronic migraines. Migraine sufferers often abuse drugs such as opioids and butalbital. Overuse of these and other pain relievers, such as over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), may result in more frequent headaches. It may also result in more discomfort.

Opioid drugs are particularly likely to be linked to the development of chronic migraine. It’s unknown why consuming too many analgesics may worsen migraine symptoms. However, it is clear that analgesic rebound headaches must be addressed while treating migraine. Before migraine symptoms may be controlled, it may be essential to discontinue offending drugs.

Odd or strong smells

Migraine sufferers commonly say that strong or strange smells cause their migraines. Perfume, in particular, is often mentioned as a trigger.

Furthermore, around half of migraine sufferers report an aversion to odors during episodes. This is called osmophobia, and it is only seen in migraine sufferers. Cigarette smoke, culinary smells, and aromas such as perfume were shown to be the most often annoying odors during migraine attacks. According to one study, people who suffer from migraine and osmophobia are more likely to experience anxiety and depression symptoms.

Bright lights and loud sounds

Some individuals claim that bright, flickering, or pulsing lights, as well as loud noises, may provoke migraines. A tiny research published in European Neurology discovered that even short exposure to sunshine might cause migraines. Participants in the study reported feeling some alleviation from:

  • wearing a hat
  • putting on sunglasses
  • avoiding brightly lit areas
  • obtaining more sleep

However, one doctor observed in a letter to the editor addressing that research that sunshine may not be a key cause for migraines. He said that sunshine only made his headaches worse if he had consumed alcohol the night before.

He also said that if he was already sleep-deprived, agitated, dehydrated, or suffering low blood sugar due to missing a meal, sunshine produced headaches. He came to the notion that intense light may be a secondary trigger. People who have migraine episodes that seem to be induced by bright light should evaluate if these additional elements are also triggers.

Weather variations

Several meteorological variations have been connected to the start of migraine headaches. In a study of Brazilian teenagers with migraine, the most common weather patterns to cause headaches were bright and clear, hot, cold, and changeable weather.

Another small research, this time including large women from Ohio and Missouri, found that thunderstorms with lightning were strongly associated with the start of a headache. Investigators decided that lightning was the precipitating component, albeit they were unsure how lightning could cause migraine.

Hormones produced by women

According to the Migraine Research Foundation, women are three times more likely than males to suffer from migraine headaches. Female sex hormone variations may have a role in headache onset and intensity, according to evidence. In a 2012 survey, more than half of female respondents claimed they were likely to have severe migraine headaches during menstruation. A tiny percentage of these women only had migraines during menstruation.

Oral contraceptives may aggravate symptoms, although pregnancy may provide relief for certain migraine sufferers. Pregnancy, on the other hand, has been related to increased symptoms in some women. Menopause may give some respite from the intensity of headaches.

Physical activity

Exercising vigorously may cause migraines. According to 2013 research, 38% of migraine sufferers encounter exercise-triggered migraine headaches at some time.

Many persons who suffer from exercise-induced migraines report that their headaches start with neck discomfort. More than half of those polled gave up a preferred sport or kind of activity in order to prevent migraine episodes. Some persons reported being able to replace low-intensity workouts for high-intensity activities that may set off an attack.

In Conclusion

If you’re one of the millions of individuals who suffer from migraines on a regular or irregular basis, it’s critical to identify your unique migraine triggers and do all you can to prevent them. It’s also crucial to note that using too many migraine drugs might worsen your symptoms.

Consider maintaining a diary of your own migraine triggers. It could be useful in preventing future migraine episodes. It may also be beneficial to speak with others about their own migraine experiences and triggers. Migraine Healthline, connects you with actual individuals who suffer from migraines. Ask questions, get advice, and gain access to professional resources on migraine management. Install the app on your iPhone or Android device.

Latest news

Related news



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here