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Migraine Triggers – What are They?

Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju

Migraine triggers are things that cause migraine. There are various triggers that might trigger migraines, including hormonal, emotional, physical, nutritional, environmental, and medication-related ones. These triggers are quite personal.

Every tenth person on the planet knows what migraine is, and unfortunately, this knowledge is derived not from medical reference books but their own bad experience. It manifests in childhood or adolescence, most often during puberty. 

Migraine is a serious health condition that can cause raging pain. Migraine pain is periodic and may be accompanied by several related symptoms.

Women, statistically, have this neurological condition much more often than men. Although the reasons for migraine are not fully elucidated, some known triggers can increase the likelihood of their occurrence. 

In this blog, we’ll look at the symptoms, the reasons for what causes migraines in females and males, and how to deal with them. If you have frequent migraines, we recommend that you contact Lone Star Neurology for diagnosis and follow-up treatment.

 

Symptoms of Migraines

Before we delve into the reasons for migraine, let’s understand what symptoms can occur with migraine.

Many people mistakenly believe that frequent headaches are the causes of migraines. However, frequent headache is not the leading and reliable sign of migraine. The clinical picture of the disease is much more complex.

Symptoms of migraines

Four stages of migraine are distinguished, each having a specific set of symptoms. At the same time, not all patients have a noticeable manifestation of all stages. Many, on the contrary, note the presence of only one or several of them.

 

  • Prodrome. Occurs a few days or hours before migraines attack and may appear as irritability, stress, fatigue, depression, or change of appetite.
  • Aura. Lasts from five minutes to an hour and is characterized by specific sensations. Most often, there are visual effects in the form of blind spots, multicolored zig zags, and flashes of light. There may also be numbness of the face and fingertips, difficulty speaking, and hearing loss. Migraine with aura occurs in only one-third of all patients. In some, it is a precursor of headache; in others, it is an independent manifestation of migraine.
  • Headache. The most difficult to tolerate stage. It lasts from a couple of hours to two to three days. So if anyone was wondering if a migraine can last for several days, the answer is yes, unfortunately. Pain is extreme, throbbing, or rasping. Most often covers half of the head. Nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to sound and light may occur.
  • Postdrome. The last stage is when the pain goes away, but depression, irritability, and reduced concentration may persist for about 24 hours.

 

Where do Migraines Hurt?

Migraine pain can have different localizations. It all depends on which vascular bundle is affected. So, migraines come in several types, and each has a different localization of pain:

  • Migraine without aura (typical migraine)

It is usually felt in one part of the head. When exercising, the pain may worsen. This migraine can last several days but is not considered the most challenging type.

It is often concentrated behind the eyes but can also be felt in part of the forehead. The aura exacerbates the usual migraine, adding many unpleasant symptoms we wrote about above.

According to the American Migraine Foundation, 25 to 30 percent of people with migraines experience migraine with aura. 

Where does this type of migraine hurt? Mainly at the forehead and behind the eyes. It’s easy to tell the difference: If you experience 15 or more days of migraines a month, you probably have chronic migraine.

  • Silent migraine

In this case, there is no pain, but unpleasant aura symptoms are present.

  • Abdominal migraine

This type is felt in the abdomen near the belly button. As you can see, bad migraines can be not only on the head.

It is clear from the name that the pain is felt behind the eyes, most often just one eye.

 

Main Reasons for Migraines

Main reasons for migraines

The exact cause of what triggers migraines has not yet been established, even though this problem affects a large number of people around the world. However, several contributing factors catalyze the manifestation of acute symptoms. These include several types:

  • Neuralgic causes

The appearance of a migraine attack can be provoked by constant or periodic stressful situations, anxiety, and overexertion. And also sharp emotional shocks, excessive load, fatigue (it does not matter – physical or mental), the tension of the neck muscles, riding on a carousel, and lack or excess of sleep.

  • Hormonal preparations

Taking hormonal drugs can provoke a sharp change in the hormonal background of the body, which leads to the appearance of a migraine attack. These drugs also include hormone-based contraceptives.

  • Unbalanced diet, alcoholic beverages

One of the central irritants that trigger migraine attacks is alcohol, especially sparkling wines, cider, and champagne (carbonated alcoholic drinks). Also, various foods and their combinations may cause an attack, including fish, cheese, chocolate, and nuts.

  • Environmental factors

Environmental factors include sudden weather changes, air pressure variations, temperature and microclimatic conditions, and moving or flying to other climatic zones over a short period (a few days/hours).

 

What Causes Migraines in Females?

So, we have already written about the leading reasons for migraines, but let’s take a closer look at why women suffer from it more often.

According to statistics, women suffer from migraines 2-3 times more often than men. The reasons for this phenomenon are not fully clarified but most likely have to do with the influence of female hormones – estrogen and progesterone.

 

There are several causes of migraine in women:

  • Hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle;
  • Taking hormonal medications, including oral contraceptives;
  • Pregnancy and premenstrual syndrome (PMS);
  • Menopause.

As you can see, the causes of migraine are multiple. And it is not always possible to determine the actual reasons for migraines. If you regularly suffer from migraines, it is best to see a doctor who can prescribe the appropriate treatment.

 

Read about difference between migraines and headaches in our other blog article.

 

Diagnostic of Migraines

Diagnostic of migraines

There is no specific test to determine the cause of headaches and migraines. To make an accurate diagnosis, the general practitioner must determine the nature of the recurrent headaches and the related symptoms.

However, migraine disease is not as simple as it seems at first glance because it can pass asymptomatically. It means that making a diagnosis can take a considerable amount of time. Where do you start:

 

Visiting the General Practitioner

When you first visit a doctor, they may perform a medical exam to check your vision, coordination, reflexes, and sensations. It should be done to identify the nature of the bad migraines and to rule out other possible underlying causes of the symptoms. The doctor may ask you some questions about the nature of your headache:

  • Pulsatile;
  • Pain on one side of the head;
  • Sufficiently severe pain that interferes with daily activities;
  • It is made worse by playing sports or engaging in regular vigorous activity;
  • Feeling of nausea;
  • Sensitivity to noise and light.

 

Migraine Diary

To understand what triggers a migraine, diagnose it, and treat it successfully, the doctor may prescribe you a migraine diary. It would be best to write down essential indicators for several weeks so the doctor can better understand the problem. Write down indicators such as:

  • Date and time;
  • What were you doing when the migraine started;
  • How long the attack lasted;
  • What symptoms were you experiencing;
  • What medications were you taking (if any).

The fact is that taking regular doses of painkillers can provoke complex migraine treatment. And if you use the medication and take them for a long time without a doctor’s prescription, it may conversely start an even more severe migraine. It would help if you told your doctor what things to help with the headache you are taking. You should not use painkillers for more than ten days a month.

 

Referral to a Specialized Doctor

Sometimes, your general practitioner may refer you to a specialized doctor – a neurologist. A neurologist is a specialist in diseases of the brain and nervous system. You may be referred to a neurologist if:

  • The reasons for your migraine are unclear, and a diagnosis cannot be made;
  • You have a migraine 15 or more days a month (chronic migraine);
  • Treatment is not helping control your symptoms.

 

Things to Help with Headaches

If we talk about medications, this is a proven way to reduce migraine, but only a doctor has the right to prescribe medicines. 

However, there are other things to help with headaches besides medication: for example, a healthy lifestyle. If you have a severe migraine, you can combine the medicines your doctor prescribes with a healthy lifestyle and eliminate the ailment.

  • As soon as you feel that you have a migraine, take a break and get some rest. Take your mind off things; the best option would be to turn off all stimuli (light, sound), lie down on the bed, and, if possible, sleep.
  • If a migraine has already occurred, it is possible to try and apply compresses. You may use a cold or hot compress to the place where the migraine hurts:
  1. Cold compress: use an ice pack; it will dull the sensation of pain;
  2. Hot compress: use a hot water bottle; it can relax tense muscles.
  • Some experts advise drinking a drink with caffeine, which may relieve the pain in small doses. However, it would be best to be careful because drinking large caffeine doses may be a reason for migraines.

 

There are a few more tips to follow to reduce the risk of migraines:

  • Regular sleeping hours

Poor sleep patterns can cause migraines, so you need to determine when you will go to bed and wake up.

  • Less stress

Because of stressful work, demanding schedules, and lack of sleep, you may get stress migraines. You need to relax and make time for yourself to prevent this from happening. Do this before bed, such as taking a warm bath or listening to classical music while drinking warm chamomile tea.

  • Eat healthy foods

Eating habits can affect the occurrence of migraines. Therefore, you must choose the healthiest food possible. It is advisable to eat at the same time every day; in no case, skip meals and do not starve; and keep track of the foods you eat. If you suspect that certain foods are causing your migraine, you should eliminate them.

 

Lone Star Neurology Can Help You

If you are suffering from migraines and do not know how to deal with them, you can contact our clinic Lone Star Neurology. Our top specialists know all about the nature of migraines and their types, so they can help you eliminate unpleasant feelings.

Lone Star Neurology has several clinics, so browse which clinic will be closest to you and make an appointment for a new life without migraines as soon as possible.

 

FAQs 

  • What is the main trigger for migraines?

Many doctors point out that stress is the main trigger of migraine. However, there are other causes as well.

  • How do you stop a migraine from triggering?

First of all, it is necessary to pay attention to the lifestyle. People should exercise, eat healthy food, rest, and try not to be stressed.

  • What drinks help migraines?

Some doctors suggest drinking a caffeine-containing drink, such as coffee or green tea. However, if migraines are present regularly, it is better to see a doctor.

  • What foods to avoid if you have migraines?

Alcohol, especially those containing gas (beer, cider, sparkling wine, etc.), aged cheeses, chocolate, citrus fruits, and nuts. However, you should also consider personal intolerances, for example, if you notice that you get a migraine after eating tomatoes.

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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been prepared.read more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well together.read more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your business.read more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any cookies.read more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going there.read more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my treatment.read more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to finish.read more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 stars.read more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his staff.read more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best treatment.read more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my doctor.read more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding solutions.read more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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