6 Migraine Triggers You Should Try To Avoid To Manage Pain


June 17, 2023

/ Learn / 6 Migraine Triggers You Should Try To Avoid To Manage Pain

Migraines involve recurring, debilitating headaches lasting anywhere from a few hours to several days. Approximately 39 million people in the U.S. suffer from chronic migraines, and many more experience occasional ones. Unfortunately, nobody knows what causes migraines, meaning there is no cure. However, there are a variety of triggers that have been identified. Different people have different triggers, but understanding your migraine triggers can help you manage your migraine pain over the long term.

6 Major Migraine Triggers

A migraine trigger is any factor that can lead to a migraine. Sometimes, just one of these factors can trigger a migraine. Other times, a combination of these factors may trigger a migraine. There are countless potential triggers, but they can generally be divided into four main categories: stress, hormonal changes, food triggers, and environmental triggers.

Knowing what your triggers are can allow you to take steps to avoid them, thereby helping reduce the risk of getting a migraine. The following are six of the primary migraine triggers to watch out for:

1. Stress 

Stress is a primary trigger for migraines. Emotional stress can lead to physical tension, which results in headaches. Many things can cause stress, from work and relationships to financial worries. Understanding what’s causing your stress can help you to manage it more effectively and potentially help you avoid migraines. Of course, you can’t always solve the situation that’s causing your stress. However, there are lots of methods that can help you manage stress, such as relaxation techniques, exercise, and meditation.

2. Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes can also trigger migraines. Women are especially prone to hormonal triggers due to the fluctuating estrogen levels during menstrual cycles, pregnancy, and menopause. It’s why women are three times more likely to experience migraines than men and why migraines in women taper off following menopause.

Other hormones that may affect migraine frequency are serotonin, melatonin, and vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP). Research has shown that these hormones can trigger or worsen migraines.

3. Changes In Or An Irregular Sleep Schedule

Changes in or an irregular sleep schedule can also trigger migraines. Sleep is vital to migraine management, as it helps regulate hormones, alleviate stress, and restore energy levels. When you don’t get enough sleep or have an erratic sleeping pattern, your body doesn’t have the chance to rest and recover properly — which can then trigger a migraine. So, make sure that you’re getting enough restful sleep each night and following a consistent sleeping schedule to help reduce your risk of migraines.

4. Lifestyle Migraine Triggers

Several lifestyle factors can trigger migraines as well. Fortunately, making lifestyle changes to avoid certain migraine triggers is one of the most effective ways to reduce your risk of getting a migraine. The following are some of the common lifestyle habits and activities that can trigger migraines:

Dehydration and Hunger

Dehydration and hunger can both trigger migraines. Your body requires the right amount of fluids and nutrients to function properly. Without them, it can start to break down and trigger a migraine. As such, be sure to drink lots of water throughout your day and eat regular, balanced meals to reduce your risk of migraines.


Overexerting yourself can be another major trigger. This includes physical activities as well as mental exertion. If your migraines often occur following a particularly strenuous activity, it’s a good idea to reduce the intensity of your workouts. You may even want to take breaks in-between tasks throughout the day.

Posture and Neck Strain

There is also a link between posture and neck strain, and migraines. Poor posture can put added strain on the muscles in your neck, which may result in headaches or migraines. Make sure you’re taking regular breaks throughout the day to stretch and move around so your neck muscles don’t become too tense.

Medications and Supplements

Finally, certain medications and supplements can also trigger migraines. If you’re taking any kind of medication or supplement regularly, it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional about the possibility of them being a migraine trigger. Your doctor can switch you to a new medication or, at the very least, adjust your dosage.

Artificial Sweeteners And Additives

Artificial sweeteners and additives, such as MSG or aspartame, also trigger migraines in some people. This is because these additives can affect the balance of chemicals in your brain, which may lead to a migraine. It’s best to limit or avoid processed foods and drinks that contain artificial sweeteners and additives to reduce your risk of migraines triggered by them.

5. Environmental Factors

Certain environmental factors can contribute to migraine risk as well. Knowing your environmental triggers can help you learn how to avoid them and take steps to create an environment at home that’s better suited to help prevent migraines. Some of the environmental triggers for migraines include:

Bright Lights

Bright lights, such as those from computer screens, televisions, and overhead lights, can trigger migraines in some people. To reduce the risk of a migraine due to bright lights, make sure that you have adequate lighting in your home and workplace, and take regular breaks from looking at screens. In addition, because the glare from bright light can be the specific trigger, it can also help to invest in anti-glare glasses or filters for your screens.

Loud Noises

Loud noises can be another trigger for migraines, as they can disrupt your brain’s normal functioning. To reduce the risk of a migraine due to loud noises, make sure that the volume of your television and other devices is at a comfortable level. Also, try to avoid loud places, such as concerts or nightclubs, if you know that they can trigger migraines. If you don’t want to miss out on fun activities that involve loud noises, then make sure that you bring earplugs or noise-canceling headphones to help reduce the loud noises.

Strong Odors

Strong odors, such as perfumes or smoke, can also trigger migraines. To reduce the risk of a migraine due to strong odors, make sure that your home and workplace are well-ventilated and free of any strong scents. If you know that certain scents can trigger your migraines, it’s best to avoid them altogether.

Weather Changes 

Weather changes, such as an increase in barometric pressure, can also be a trigger for migraines. To reduce the risk of a migraine due to weather changes, it can help to stay inside when the barometric pressure is changing rapidly.

6. Physical Triggers

Finally, physical triggers can also play a role in the onset of migraines. These don’t just include changes in your body’s physiology, such as a lack of sleep or changes in your hormone levels. They can also include physical issues that can be bothersome in their own right, such as the following:


If you suffer from allergies, your risk of migraines can increase. This is because allergens can trigger a reaction that causes inflammation and other issues that can lead to migraines. To reduce the risk of a migraine due to allergies, take steps to reduce your exposure to allergens and try to keep your allergies under control.

Sinus Problems

Sinus problems, such as congestion or sinus infections, can also increase the risk of getting a migraine. This is because the inflammation caused by these conditions can affect the balance of chemicals in your brain and trigger a migraine attack. As such, getting regular checkups with your doctor is vital to ensure that your sinuses are healthy and taken care of.

Jaw Or Dental Problems

Problems with the jaw, such as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), can also increase your risk of migraines. This is because TMJ can cause muscle spasms and inflammation that can lead to a migraine. To reduce the risk of a migraine due to jaw or dental problems, make sure that you get regular checkups with your dentist and practice good oral hygiene. Also, try to avoid chewing gum or grinding your teeth if you know that it can trigger a migraine.

How To Identify Triggers Of A Migraine

Because of how intense migraines are, trying to figure out what your triggers are can be a bit tricky after the fact. This is especially true if you have multiple triggers. Fortunately, there are ways to identify your migraine triggers. For example, you can conduct an elimination diet, which involves eliminating certain foods or drinks from your diet for a couple of weeks to determine if your migraines improve. If you eliminate a specific food from your diet and stop migraines (or have them noticeably less frequently), then you can assume that food is one of your triggers.

Another way to identify your migraine triggers is to keep a migraine diary, which involves writing down details about the events that happen before and during a migraine attack. This can help you identify patterns in your migraines so that you can more easily pinpoint the triggers. Lastly, you can also discuss your migraine triggers with a healthcare provider. They can provide insight or advice to help you identify what triggers your migraines.

When To See A Doctor

If you are experiencing severe or frequent migraines, it is essential to see a doctor. You should also seek medical help if you experience certain symptoms with your migraines, such as fever, confusion, speech difficulties, paralysis, or numbness. Additionally, if pain persists for over 72 hours, then be sure to seek medical attention.

Furthermore, if you have never experienced a migraine before, you should seek medical help to make sure that it is indeed a migraine and not something else. Finally, if your migraines are interfering with your daily life and affecting your ability to work or participate in other activities, it is crucial to seek medical help.

Common Ways Of Coping Up With Migraine Attack

Many people will take over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, to help with migraine pain. However, it’s essential to understand that taking such medication too frequently can lead to rebound headaches and other health issues. Additionally, relying solely on pain medications won’t help you find long-term relief. It will only provide temporary pain relief because you’re only addressing the symptoms of the migraine. The following are a couple of tips on how you can learn to manage your migraine attacks more effectively over the long term:

Lifestyle Modification

Changing your lifestyle can be an easy way to reduce the intensity and frequency of your migraine attacks. This includes regular exercise, ensuring you’re getting plenty of sleep, drinking enough water to stay hydrated, and making dietary changes to avoid certain food and drink triggers.

Stress Management

Stress is often a significant contributor to migraine attacks, so finding ways to reduce stress in your life is critical. This can include taking time for yourself each day, incorporating relaxation techniques into your daily routine, such as meditation and yoga, and ensuring you’re not overworking yourself.

Reduce The Symptoms Caused By Hormonal Changes

For women, hormonal changes can be a major migraine trigger. To reduce migraine symptoms brought on by hormonal changes, make sure that you’re getting plenty of sleep regularly, eat regular snacks throughout the day and don’t miss meals, and try to avoid stress. Additionally, your healthcare provider can provide hormonal treatments to help you manage migraines caused by hormonal changes.

Seek A Medical Treatment To Relieve Your Migraine Attacks

If you are experiencing frequent or severe migraine attacks, it is vital to seek medical help. At Relatyv, we offer personalized pain management plans tailored specifically to our patients’ needs. We take a whole-person approach to treating migraines, using electroanalgesia therapy, IV therapy, and lifestyle counseling to help our patients find long-term pain relief. In addition, using a Neurofunctional Pain Management approach, we can help identify the triggers of your migraine attacks and provide treatment plans to help you cope with and manage them.

About the Author

Will is a healthcare executive, innovator, entrepreneur, inventor, and writer with a wide range of experience in the medical field. Will has multiple degrees in a wide range of subjects that give depth to his capability as an entrepreneur and capacity to operate as an innovative healthcare executive.

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