06 Jun Migraine Awareness Month: What Can Cause Migraines?
June is Migraine and Headache Awareness Month. If you are a victim of this invisible disease, remember, You are Not Alone—the theme for this year’s campaign. When you learn that migraines affect 36 million Americans—more than the number of people with diabetes and asthma combined—you realize you really aren’t alone in this battle.
One thing that makes migraines so difficult to prevent is that they have numerous potential causes, some of which are out of your control. If you’re not carefully dialed into what triggers your migraines, you could inadvertently cause more of them to occur. Here’s a look at what can cause migraines and how to address the factors that are within your control.
What Can Cause Migraines?
There is no single trigger for migraine headaches. Some people can easily identify what brings on an attack, while others must work harder to pinpoint the exact cause. Here are some potential factors to consider.
Hormonal & Emotional Triggers Cause Migraines
A whopping 30 percent of women experience migraines. This gender is susceptible to these severe headaches because they are often brought on by hormonal changes that only affect women, including pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause. Powerful emotions—such as depression, anxiety, stress, excitement, and shock—can also cause migraines.
Your Diet Can Cause Migraines
Alcohol and caffeine are two common migraine culprits. Other foods that could bring on an attack include citrus fruits, chocolate, aged cheese, artificial sweeteners, and food additives. Even eating at irregular times or allowing yourself to become dehydrated are possible reasons to get a migraine.
Some Medications & Medical Conditions Cause Migraines
Because hormones can trigger migraines, it’s not surprising that hormone replacement therapy and contraceptive pills containing progestin and estrogen have been named possible triggers. Some sleeping pills have also been linked with migraines.
Certain medical conditions can trigger these headaches as well, including anxiety, mood disorders, obstructive sleep apnea, and teeth grinding or jaw clenching. All of these conditions affect either the brain or the muscles around it, which is why they contribute to migraine headaches.
Environmental Triggers Cause Migraines
Sensitive individuals may experience a migraine after being exposed to flickering screens, bright lights, secondhand smoke, sudden temperature changes, strong smells, stuffy rooms, or loud noises.
Your Lifestyle Can Cause Migraines
Your daily behaviors could have a significant impact on the severity, frequency, and duration of your migraine attacks. Everything from your sleeping and eating routines to your exercise habits to your stress management skills could play a role. If you have poor posture, neck or shoulder tension, low blood sugar, or jetlag from traveling, you could inadvertently bring on a migraine.
Tools to Manage Migraines
Understanding what could trigger a migraine is one thing—taking steps to combat it is another. After all, there is currently no clear-cut cure for these severe headaches. Treatments are aimed at identifying your triggers and managing them the best you can to alleviate symptoms. Here are some ideas to discuss with your doctor.
Avoid Your Triggers
If you’re struggling to figure out what brings on your migraines, consider starting a headache diary. This is where, at the first sign of a headache, you write down anything you can think of that might have brought on the attack. Continue doing this for a few weeks or months, and then look back to see if you spot a pattern.
- Did an attack always begin shortly after eating packaged snacks or Chinese food? If so, food additives like monosodium glutamate (MSG) could be to blame.
- Do you always seem to get a migraine after working at the computer for a long time? You might need to change the lighting or wear special glasses to reduce eyestrain.
- Does drinking alcohol, especially on an empty stomach, appear to be a trigger? It would help to adopt more moderate drinking habits.
Make Lifestyle Alterations
To avoid painful, debilitating migraine attacks, you may need to change some of your day-to-day habits. Here are some suggestions that may help:
- Wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day, aiming for seven to nine hours of sleep per night.
- Eat at the same time of day, avoiding any foods that appear to cause migraines. Some people find that special diets, such as going gluten-free, can help.
- Get regular physical exercise, but keep your workouts to a moderate intensity level to avoid overexertion, a possible migraine trigger.
- Incorporate stress-reducing practices into your daily life, such as stretching and meditation.
- Carry a water bottle with you and drink from it regularly to prevent becoming dehydrated.
Many people manage their symptoms by taking migraine medication, antidepressants, and drugs that treat nausea. While these shouldn’t replace lifestyle modifications and efforts to avoid your triggers, it can be useful to have medicine on hand when you feel the symptoms of a migraine coming on. Your doctor must write you a prescription for these types of medications.
You can also take over-the-counter painkillers, including naproxen, ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or aspirin early in the progress of a migraine to help combat the pain. Some supplements and vitamins may also prevent migraines, including feverfew, magnesium citrate, vitamin B12, and riboflavin. Remember to speak with your doctor before you start taking any new supplements or medications.
Visit Mile High Spine & Pain Center
It’s best to consider non-drug treatments when possible to avoid unpleasant side effects. At Mile High Spine & Pain Center, we treat migraines with the following techniques:
- Lifestyle recommendations to help you avoid common triggers
- Testing for food allergies and environmental sensitivities
- Tissue manipulation and trigger point therapy to release muscle tightness
- Spinal care to improve posture and relieve nerve pressure
- Nerve testing to identify any acute damage in the neck and spine area
Don’t wait until your next migraine flare-up to get help—contact Mile High Spine & Pain Center in Broomfield at (720) 507-0080 and schedule a free consultation today.