Take control of your headache pain by avoiding triggers to prevent migraines before they occur. Although the precise cause of migraine pain is unknown, there are several ways you can reduce and prevent migraine pain occurrence.
Patients suffering from severe or frequent migraines can benefit from learning what triggers their migraines. Once they have determined their triggers, lifestyle changes can help reduce the occurrence of migraine pain.
Prevent Migraines: Learn Your Triggers
The first step to learn your migraine triggers is to keep a migraine journal. A migraine journal is a record of each migraine incident you experience, as well as the context it occurs in.
Daily items to track in your migraine journal:
- How much sleep you had the previous night
- Meals you ate (or skipped) throughout the day
- Caffeine intake
- Activities and exercises you engaged in
- Outside weather
- Overall stress level
- For women, your menstrual cycle
Items to record when each migraine occurs:
- Specific foods eaten recently
- Light sensitivity
- Location indoors or outdoors
- Hydration level
As you record your headache occurrences, patterns will begin to emerge that will help you identify your individual migraine triggers. Common triggers include stress, extreme fatigue, skipped meals, dehydration, caffeine withdrawal, extended exposure to compact fluorescent lights, hormonal changes, and even weather fluctuations. Some food additives such as nitrates, nitrites, and MSG (monosodium glutamate) are known to trigger migraines. You may also find certain foods or drinks may increase the number of migraines you experience.
Lifestyle Changes to Manage Migraine Triggers
Once you determine what your migraine pain triggers are, you can begin making lifestyle changes to avoid them.
Get Plenty of Rest – a good night’s sleep can help manage migraines triggered by exhaustion or changes in sleeping patterns.
Eat Regular, Healthy Meals – Skipping meals can cause a dip in blood sugar, which can trigger migraine headaches to occur. Small snacks throughout the day can help. Be sure to avoid foods you have identified as migraine triggers for yourself.
Watch Your Caffeine Intake – If caffeine is a migraine trigger for you, be sure to lower your intake amount slowly to avoid caffeine withdrawals, which can also cause migraine headaches. Be aware that caffeine can be found in more than just coffee: sodas, teas, and other food and drink can contain caffeine as well.
Exercise Carefully – While regular exercise can help reduce migraine frequency, for some people, strenuous or intense exercise can trigger pain. If exercise is one of your migraine triggers, you will want to to work with your doctor to determine which exercises are appropriate for you. Your physician may recommend taking an anti-inflammatory medication prior to engaging in strenuous activity to help alleviate headache pain triggered by exercise.
Manage Stress – Stress is a known trigger for tension headaches and migraines. Meditation, yoga, and simple stretch breaks are all small ways you can help manage your stress level to prevent migraines. Taking a walk or listening to calming music can help keep migraine pain at bay.
Moderate Exposure to Intense Stimuli – Bright lights, loud noises, and strong scents can all trigger migraines. Sunglasses with blue or green tinted lenses are often helpful for migraine sufferers. Noise-canceling headphones or hearing protection can help reduce loud sounds that trigger headaches. If you work in an office where people wear strong perfumes or colognes, consider asking to have your desk relocated away from the migraine-triggering scents.
For more information on managing migraine pain and treatment options to reduce your chronic headache frequency, contact Metropolitan Pain Consultants at 201.729.0001.