Migraines affect up to 13 percent of the population in the United States. These debilitating headaches can lead to depression, missed work, difficulty completing everyday tasks and a lower quality of life. Fortunately, there are ways to successfully treat the condition. It starts with identifying what triggers your migraines.
A common misconception is that a migraine is the same thing as a tension headache. A true migraine is much more severe. Migraines can last anywhere from a few hours up to a few days. People may feel symptoms beyond a severe headache, such as their skin might hurt or it may be painful to brush their hair. It’s also not uncommon to suffer a migraine hangover and take a while to get back to feeling like yourself.
Although experts are unsure what causes migraines, a few factors thought to contribute include genetic and environmental factors, family history, previous head trauma, illness, psychological stress, obesity and sleep apnea. The condition is mainly diagnosed based on symptoms, such as having intense pain on either side of your head, sensitivity to light and sound, nausea, blurred vision and lightheadedness.
There are several treatments available but one of the best ways to avoid migraine pain is to learn what triggers them. This may include:
- Too much caffeine – on the flip side, migraines may also be caused by caffeine withdrawal
- Restrictive diet
- Change in sleep pattern
- Hormonal factors
- Certain foods – fermented foods, aged cheese, alcohol, MSG and artificial sweeteners
- Exposure to bright light
- Strong smells
- Loud noises
Everyone is different – to determine what triggers your migraines, keep a written log or use an app to track when symptoms start, how long they last and type of pain, as well as aspects of your daily life. Over time, you’ll see patterns that link certain triggers to the onset of your migraines. Once you determine your triggers, you can take steps to avoid them.