A migraine is a recurrent and often long-lasting headache that manifests as intense pulsing or throbbing pain affecting one side of the head. However, it’s not uncommon to experience pain on both sides, the forehead or the back of the head.
Migraine attacks may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and increased sensitivity to bright lights, loud noises, and strong smells. A migraine can be so severe that it interferes with your ability to perform daily activities.
Numerous factors can trigger migraine attacks or make the pain worse. These triggers can be different for everyone and include:
Excessive stress can trigger or worsen migraines. In fact, up to 70 percent of people with migraines report that stress is a major trigger for their headaches.
If you’re prone to migraines, it’s crucial to find ways to manage your stress levels or reduce your exposure to stressful situations. Stress management techniques include relaxation, exercise, and therapy.
Fluctuations in estrogen levels can trigger migraines in some women. This is one of the reasons why migraines are more common in women, especially during menstruation, pregnancy, or menopause.
Certain Foods and Drinks
Did you know that certain foods and drinks can also trigger or worsen migraines? These include aged cheeses, chocolate, cured meats, dairy products, processed foods, caffeinated beverages, and alcohol.
If you find that certain foods trigger your migraines, it’s advisable to avoid them or eat them in moderation. Keeping a food diary can help identify and keep track of food and drinks that trigger migraine attacks.
Sensory overload is one of the leading causes of migraines. It happens when your senses are bombarded with too much stimulation, such as bright or flashing lights, loud noises, or strong smells. If you experience constant migraines, it’s important to avoid excessive sensory stimulation as much as possible.
Sleep deprivation leads to changes in the brain that make some people more susceptible to migraines. Ongoing sleep deprivation can also lead to the development of chronic migraines.
If you’re not getting enough sleep, there are simple lifestyle changes that can help improve your sleep quality. This includes creating a relaxing bedtime routine, avoiding alcohol and caffeine before bed, and removing all distractions from your bedroom.
Changes in Weather
Fluctuations in barometric pressure due to weather changes can worsen or trigger the onset of migraine attacks. This is because a change in barometric pressure upsets the delicate balance between the air-filled chambers in the body (such as the inner ear and sinus cavities) and the outside world, resulting in pain.
Severe dehydration leads to a drop in blood pressure and the shrinking of brain tissue. This restricts oxygen circulation and puts pressure on the nerves in the brain, which can worsen migraines.
It’s essential to stay hydrated, especially if you experience constant migraines. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids, especially water, throughout the day. You may also want to carry a water bottle when you’re out and about.
Studies show certain medications can trigger migraine headaches or make them worse. These include medications for blood pressure, birth control, estrogen replacement therapy, and sleeping pills, to name a few.
If you suspect a medication is triggering your migraines, talk to your medical provider about alternative options.
Intense Physical Activity
While moderate exercises are considered effective in preventing recurrent migraines, strenuous or intense physical activity may have the opposite effect. This is because intense activity can lead to dehydration and changes in blood sugar levels, both of which can trigger migraines. Physical exertion can also lead to muscle tension, which may worsen headaches.
If you’re prone to migraines, it’s vital to be aware of potential triggers and take the necessary steps to avoid them. Keeping a migraine diary can help identify your triggers and develop a plan to prevent future episodes.