Migraines are more than simple headaches. A neurological disease that can bring your day to a sudden halt and keep you in silence and darkness for days, migraine pain is pulsing and intense, affecting about 12% of the American population.
The reasons why some people suffer from migraines aren’t fully understood. Both environment and genetics are thought to play key roles, as are nerve interactions and brain chemistry. What is well-known, however, is the role of migraine triggers, conditions, and factors that jumpstart a migraine episode.
At Active Care Chiropractic & Rehabilitation, we specialize in migraine and headache treatment. Chiropractic adjustments reduce the frequency and intensity of your migraine attacks, and understanding your triggers helps you avoid additional episodes. Identifying your migraine triggers is an important part of managing life with this condition.
What is a migraine trigger?
Any activity, condition, or event that seems to lead to a migraine attack about 6 to 48 hours later may be a migraine trigger. There are many triggers, some in common between migraine patients and others that could be uniquely your own.
Sometimes, they’re hard to identify. It’s obviously hard to avoid a situation when you don’t know it’s related to your migraines. A trigger can lead to a migraine most of the time you’re exposed to it, or you may react only occasionally, making it even harder to identify.
Common migraine triggers
There’s no pattern to migraine triggers. These can be something as complex as a hormonal event or as simple as a coughing fit. Some common triggers include:
- Changes in routine: such as bedtimes, travel, different meal times
- Computer use: possibly from posture or screen glare
- Coughing attacks
- Environment: like changes in weather or humidity
- Foods and additives: including chocolate (though the trigger might be the craving for something sweet), aspartame, monosodium glutamate, or nitrates
- Head injuries
- Hormones: thought to be a reason why women suffer migraines more frequently than men
- Light: both natural and artificial
- Sleep: too little, too much, or changes to sleep patterns
- Stress: anxiety, excitement, or tension could each contribute
- Sounds or noise: sudden or prolonged, noisy environments sometimes serve as triggers
Even within the list of common migraine triggers, you may find your own unique variations.
The importance of a trigger diary
Since avoiding migraine triggers is part of your condition management, correct and thorough identification of triggers is key. Many migraine patients keep a trigger diary to help them pin down the conditions that cause their episodes.
A diary can help you to deduce the activities, events, and situations that occur before a migraine attack. Use your diary to track things like:
- Bedtime and wakeup times
- Your mood
- Daily weather
- Events of the day (work, exercise, travel, watching television, etc.)
- What you eat and drink, as well as when you consume
- Bowel movements
- Menstrual cycle, for women
- Changes to lifestyle or routine
- When an episode starts, including the migraine stages you experience (prodrome, aura, attack, post-drome)
- Medications used to control pain, including dosage
Sometimes, it’s not the event as much as it is the timing, so record as much detail as possible to help you determine the nature of your triggers. It won’t take long for patterns to emerge.
Active Care Chiropractic & Rehabilitation has five convenient locations in the Main Line and Narberth, Pennsylvania, area to help you with migraine pain. Book an appointment online or by phone to find out more about chiropractic care for migraines. Schedule your visit now.