Among the many different types of headaches, migraines are without doubt the most debilitating. According to the latest statistics, more than 37 million people in the United States alone suffer from migraines. Of these, approximately 5 million have one migraine per month; whereas 11 million experience such intense pain that it causes some degree of disability. If you happen to suffer from this type of headache, learning about common and uncommon triggers for migraines will allow you to gain better control over quality of life.

The Effects of Migraines

Although men get migraines, these headaches are more prevalent in women between the ages of 35 and 55. Even when mild, the pain can be difficult to control. If not caught early or treated properly, it becomes hard to work, attend school, and maintain healthy relationships, among other things. The key is to recognize the onset, which is why learning both common and uncommon triggers for migraines is so important.

Some of the most common symptoms of a migraine are:

  • Throbbing head pain on one side
  • Sound and/or light sensitivity
  • Visual changes
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Aura, those highly irritating migraine precursors like blind spots and flashing lights

 Common Migraine Triggers

  • Alcohol – While all alcoholic beverages can trigger a migraine, those with a significant amount of tyramine are the worst. These include red wine, vermouth, sherry, and beer.
  • Caffeine – Interestingly, caffeine from coffee, tea, carbonated soda, and even chocolate can stop migraines in some people but in someone with caffeine sensitivity, the opposite occurs
  • Environmental Change – While environmental changes do not affect everyone, a change in weather or barometric pressure can be impacting
  • Food Additives – There are a number of additives proven to trigger a migraine to include Kombu extract, hydrolyzed vegetable protein or HVP, sodium caseinate, and hydrolyzed plant protein or HPP
  • Hormonal Changes – During puberty and menopause when estrogen levels fluctuate, the risk of developing a migraine increases
  • Prescription Medication – If under the care of a physician, certain medications will not be prescribed such as oral contraceptives, nitroglycerin, and vasodilators but if not seeing a doctor, we recommend doing research to better understand the exact medications that pose a risk
  • Sensory Stimuli – Loud noises, bright lights, and overpowering smells are also an issue
  • Sleep Pattern Change – A change in sleep pattern, whether you get more or less rest, can also increase the chance of developing a migraine
  • Stress – Even a small degree of stress can be a problem, especially if you or family members have a history of migraines

Uncommon Migraine Triggers

  • Amino Acids – Both Phenylethylamine and Tyramine found in fermented cheese, soy, vinegar, chocolate, nuts, and citrus are culprits. In fact, leftovers pose a real risk. If food is not properly stored or kept too long, the level of Tyramine increases.
  • Nitrates – Foods that contain nitrates, which are used to enhance flavor and for preservative purposes should also be avoided. Some of the worst foods include sausage, deli meats, pepperoni, jerky, and hot dogs.
  • Sulfates – This preservative found in dried fruits, processed foods, and wine is also a migraine trigger
  • Tannins – Also on our list of common and uncommon migraine triggers are tannins, which are plant compounds that give foods an astringent flavor. The most common include red wine, pears, apples, and apple cider.

Let us hear from you:  What are your most common migraine triggers?

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