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Migraine Headache: Triggers of Migraine Headache and How to Avoid Them

In this post we will talk about migraine, specifically what triggers migraine. A migraine is an intense pounding headache on one or sometimes both sides of the head. 

Migraine headaches can last for hours or even days. Migraine usually begins in the forehead, the side of the head or around the eyes and gradually gets more severe. 

Just about any movement, activity, bright light or loud noises can make the pain worse.

Nausea and vomiting are also common symptoms during a migraine. 

You may find it hard to believe that migraine is the third most common disease in the world and around 1 in every 7 people suffer from migraine. An average person may spend around 5% of his life experiencing an attack of migraine. 

Anxiety and depression are significantly more common in people with migraine than in healthy individuals. 

Luckily, scientists and researchers have found certain triggers which initiate an attack of migraine. A proactive person can easily avoid these and effectively prevent migraine. 

In this post we will be talking about a few of the fairly common triggers that initiate migraine and we will also take a look on how you should control these triggers which will help you to manage your condition in a better way. 

Make sure to follow this blog as we will be gradually releasing many more posts on these topic. A study done by Danish researchers found that 50-80% of people living with migraine report that their attacks are linked to stress. 

Some people specifically experience migraine after a stressful event and some also experience a new attack during a stressful event. It is a very reasonable advice to control stress levels if you want to prevent migraine. 

People who don't manage stress well can have many health problems like stomach pain, sleeping problems, various illnesses and depression.

Various stress-relieving techniques such as yoga, meditation, time-out techniques will prevent your stress levels from rising.

Poor sleep is one of the most common factors linked to migraine and it is often cited as a trigger for acute attacks of migraine. 

If you have an erratic sleep schedule, you are not only more prone to develop migraine but you are also at an increased risk of anxiety and depression. Many people report that sleep often relieves their migraine headaches. Sleep is vital for the brain. 

It recharges necessary nutrients, removes waste and consolidates memory. Hit the bed early, follow sleep hygiene, avoid electronic devices on the bed and avoid unplanned daytime naps. You can read a post on sleep hygiene in which we have talked about how to have a healthy sleep schedule so make sure to check that out.

Research has shown that skipping meals is frequently linked to the onset of migraine. Fasting is also a very common trigger for migraine. It remains unclear how this happens and it's probably related to falling blood glucose levels.

People with migraines are advised not to skip meals. Even dehydration has been suggested as a possible migraine trigger due to the involvement of hypothalamus, the thirst and hunger center for the brain. A small survey of people with migraines revealed that insufficient fluid intake was linked to headache onset in about 40% of responders.

Time your meals, drink plenty of water and if you are working always carry a water bottle and lunch. A good meal schedule goes a long way in ensuring you prevent migraine attacks.

Certain foods are frequently reported as possible triggers for an attack of migraine. A 2008 Brazilian study found that among people with migraines, certain foods in their diet was one of the most frequently reported triggers. Chocolate, caffeine and alcohol were the most common substances associated with migraine attacks. If you are suffering from migraine, it's best to avoid these. 

Other foods frequently associated with migraine include cheese and salami, fermented and pickled foods which contain large amounts of amino acid tyramine. Even artificial sweeteners like aspartame and monosodium glutamate (Maggi) have also been linked to migraine.

Many people in the general public believe MSG (Maggi) can trigger headaches. Most controlled research has failed to identify a link between consumption of MSG and headache or any other condition in normal individuals. However, a small 2009 study concluded that MSG could trigger headache and pain in the face and head.

Despite the conflicting evidence, it may be wise to avoid MSG. A 2008 Brazilian study observed alcohol triggered migraine in about one-third of people, making it one of the most commonly reported triggers for migraine. A closer look at the study numbers shows that red wine disproportionately affects women.

Around 22% reported migraine headaches following red wine consumption. Some experts have reported that excessive caffeine consumption can trigger migraine and they suggest that it's wise to monitor your intake of caffeine from coffee, tea, soft drinks and energy drinks. That sudden burst of energy that you get from these beverages is actually caffeine playing its role. People with migraine must strictly avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages as these are notorious for causing intense episodes.

Closing Thought 

So friends, these were a few of the common triggers to avoid if you are suffering from migraines. While they might not work for everyone, it's prudent to keep these in mind to avoid potential attacks. 

If you know someone who suffers from migraine, share this post to them. Make sure to follow our website so that you don't miss out on our upcoming posts. I hope you found this post helpful. 


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3. Shah DR, Dilwali S, Friedman DI. Migraine Aura Without Headache [corrected]. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2018 Sep 17;22(11):77. doi: 10.1007/s11916-018-0725-1. Erratum in: Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2018 Oct 20;22(12):85. PMID: 30225597.

4. Marmura MJ. Triggers, Protectors, and Predictors in Episodic Migraine. Curr Pain Headache Rep. 2018 Oct 5;22(12):81. doi: 10.1007/s11916-018-0734-0. PMID: 30291562.

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