Many people with a migraine condition live with some level of anxiety about when the next episode will occur. Aside from being painful experiences, migraines can be very inconvenient when they cause you to miss out on important events in your life. Those who suffer from migraines are often instructed by their doctors to keep a migraine journal in order to discover what environmental or lifestyle factors occurred leading up to each migraine episode. By writing down the weather, what foods they ate, and what was going on in their lives a day or two before the onset of a migraine, patients have been able to figure out patterns or factors that increase the likelihood of a migraine. The hope is that by avoiding these migraine triggers, they will be able to have fewer migraines.
Described below are 10 common triggers for migraines:
- Too much or too little caffeine: If you have more than 4 or 5 cups of coffee, tea, or caffeinated soda every day, it could be triggering your migraines. Reducing your caffeine intake could help, but it should be done slowly. Suddenly having less caffeine can also trigger a migraine. Look out for caffeine in other products such as energy drinks, chocolate (dark chocolate has higher levels than milk chocolate), and over-the-counter pain medication.
- Irregular sleep: When you get less sleep than you need, interrupted sleep, or when you have inconsistent bed times and wake times, these sleep irregularities can trigger migraines. Most people need about 8 hours of sleep per night. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every night, even on your days off from work. Create a cool, dark sleeping environment that is free from electronic device screens and noise.
- Too much stress: Nearly 70% of migraine patients state that stress affects their migraines. Sometimes migraines come on during a stressful event, but they can also come on after the stressful event has passed. Your body releases hormones to deal with a stressful event. The change in those hormone levels after the stressful event can trigger a migraine. Breathing techniques, listening to calming music, exercise, and other relaxing activities can help you manage your stress so that it doesn’t take control of your life.
- Hormone fluctuations in women: Stress is not the only thing that can cause hormone levels to change suddenly. Women who are menstruating or going through menopause have changing hormone levels that can trigger migraines. As much as 75% of women who have migraines have been able to connect their migraine activity with their menstrual cycle.
- Fad Diets: Popular new diet trends sometimes have you eating foods that you’re not used to, skipping meals, or eliminating entire food groups. Sudden changes in your diet, especially if they affect your blood sugar levels, can trigger a migraine. To eat healthy and avoid triggering a migraine, try to keep your blood sugar levels from dropping too low or spiking too high throughout the day and night. If you want to make extreme diet changes by cutting out certain foods, try doing it over the course of a few weeks rather than all at once.
- Tyramine: Tyramine is a substance found in foods that are aged, fermented, smoked, pickled, or similarly preserved. The natural process of preserving these foods produces tyramine. Although these foods can provide a tasty snack, they can unfortunately trigger a migraine.
- Strong smells: The most common smells that trigger migraines are perfume and cologne, gasoline, chemical smells, and strong food smells. If a migraine has already begun, encountering these smells can make the migraine worse.
- Not drinking enough water: The amount of water that a person needs each day depends on a variety of factors including age, activity level, body weight, and muscle mass. Being even slightly dehydrated can trigger a migraine. If you have trouble remembering to drink water, there are several phone apps available that will make a noise every so often to remind you to keep up your fluid intake.
- The outdoors: Bright sunlight, altitude changes, and weather conditions involving changes in humidity and barometric pressure can trigger migraines. Since you can’t control the weather, being prepared with sunglasses and the right clothing can help.
- Using too much medication: People who suffer from chronic migraines are the most at risk for developing rebound headaches caused by taking medication for their headaches too often. Doctors may have them on a daily preventative migraine medication, or they may use over-the-counter medication each time a migraine strikes. Talking with their doctor about lowering the dosage or reducing the frequency of use could help prevent rebound headaches from happening.
Natural, Medication-Free Relief
More and more people are finding relief from their migraines through upper cervical chiropractic care. Upper cervical chiropractors are specialists who understand how the top two vertebrae of the spine play an important role in the function of the central nervous system and the body as a whole. When the two vertebrae just below the skull (known as the atlas and axis vertebrae) are not in their proper alignment, they can pinch or put pressure on the brainstem, nerves, and other tissues in the area. The central nervous system does not function ideally in this type of situation. The blood and cerebral spinal fluid that should be regulated going to and from the head are not able to move in the optimal amounts. These factors can influence the development of migraines. However, once the atlas and axis are adjusted back into their original positions, the body can return to its normal functioning and heal any damage that was caused by the misalignment.
At Symmetry Health Chiropractic Center in Cedar Park, Texas, we check to see if your spinal alignment could be affecting your health, including any migraines that you may be having. After a detailed patient history and thorough exam, we tailor a treatment plan to your individual needs. Many of our migraine patients have found relief through our care. If you would like to know more about what upper cervical chiropractic care can do for your condition, call us for a free consultation.
To schedule a complimentary consultation call our Cedar Park, TX office at 512-572-3976. You can also click the button below. If you are outside of the local area you can find an Upper Cervical Doctor near you at www.uppercervicalawareness.com.