Avoiding Migraine Triggers
There are two basic types of headaches with minor subdivisions: Tension headaches and migraine headaches. The most common is a tension headache, which affects different parts of the head with a dull ache that is usually easily remedied or simply ignored.
It can be ignored because it is not as debilitating as a migraine, which is more than simply a headache. Migraine attacks often involve a prelude neurological symptom termed “aura”. It’s not the same aura as the subtle energy that surrounds one’s body.
It’s a neurological anomaly that may render one confused, dizzy, extremely sensitive to bright light, experience unusual bodily sensations, distorted vision, and visual and auditory hallucinations. It may mimic a bad LSD experience occasionally.
The aura may precede a full-blown migraine by seconds or an hour. If one has an aura experience without a full-blown migraine, then it’s called a silent migraine. Unfortunately, a variety of auras may continue throughout a full-blown migraine attack.
A full-blown migraine starts throbbing in the head, usually but not always on one side. Then the pain may proceed downward through the neck, to the shoulder or shoulders, and possibly the chest. It may also cause nausea and vomiting. This can last for few hours or even a few days.
As a neurovascular event of unknown though variously hypothesized origin in mainstream medicine, it is a harmonic or shadow of seizures and strokes. Migraine attacks are not just bad headaches.
Migraine attacks can be triggered by various foods, flashing light, perfume scents, and mostly stress. Not all triggers are common to all migraine suffers. Each may have two or three triggers. But there are many different triggers plaguing the migraine population.
So a migraine sufferer is wise to become aware of items or events triggering each attack to determine what triggers can be avoided. Some advise keeping a diary to record what was consumed or going on when a migraine occurred to determine which triggers are relevant.
Common migraine triggers
Stress causes tension headaches and migraine episodes. It may be the most common trigger among migraine sufferers. This includes anxiety, worry, and shock. Ironically, a sudden relief from stressful conditions can be a trigger as well.
Menstruation or any fluctuation of estrogen is a common trigger for migraines among women, and they’re obviously a hard ones to avoid. It’s no wonder women suffer more often than men with migraines.
Alcohol and excessive caffeine consumption are common triggers. Suddenly quitting coffee is another potential trigger.
Foods: Anything containing MSG or aspartame can be a trigger. After all, they are brain cell excitotoxins that should be avoided by everyone. Processed meats with nitrates, marinated or fermented foods such as pickles are another.
Unfortunately, ripened cheeses such as brie and cheddar, and worse yet, chocolate, may be triggers. Excessive citrus is another potential trigger for migraines. Even sourdough bread, especially if freshly baked, could be a trigger.
Some migraine sufferers have had issues with nuts or nut butters, including peanuts and peanut butter. Broad beans such as snow peas or fava and lima beans, sour cream, even dried fruits, avocados and papaya are triggers for some.
Environmental triggers can include strong perfume scents from perfume counters, churches, offices, and homes are triggers common to many migraine sufferers.
Flashing, strobe, or flickering lights are another. These can also occur while in a car driving through a forested area where the sunlight appears off and from a movie projector’s light flutter.
It’s impossible to avoid all these triggers, and one may already know which are not triggers. The diary strategy makes sense for isolating triggers as new migraine episodes occur.