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What Triggers A Migraine Attack?

Only those who have ever suffered a migraine attack can relate to the extreme pain it causes. For all others it is a mysterious headache that put the victim out of action for sometimes days at end. The fact that the exact cause of migraine is not yet determined makes the proverb ‘prevention is better than cure’ as the best placed bet for dealing with migraine attacks.

Migraine is characterized by a pulsating or throbbing pain in one side or whole of the brain. It can occur for few hours or may continue for days together. Experts believe that almost 20% people are susceptible to migraines. This is attributed to their hereditary or genetic makeup which is characterised by a hyper active brain that puts them at risk.

As soon as this hyper active brain comes in contact with particular unique conditions it activates the migraine pain. These triggers produce no effect in normal individuals. Few of these triggers for migraine are listed below to help you understand:

  1. Weather conditions like  high humidity, low pressure and high temperature
  2. Improper sleep both under or over sleeping
  3. Caffeine addiction
  4. Fasting, crash diets, not eating breakfast or starving for longer duration
  5. Fermented foods like soy sauce, cheese, pickles, citrus fruits and vinegar
  6. Alcohol and smoking
  7. Strong perfumes
  8. Flickering or bright lights
  9. Foods with monosodium glutamate (MSG) like Chinese cuisines
  10. Menopause or menstruation which brings a change in hormonal levels
  11. Birth control pills and other hormonal medications
  12. Gluten intolerance
  13. Excessive consumption of refine carbohydrates like white sugar, pasta, breads etc.
  14. Longer exposure to sunlight
  15. Paints, dust, pollens and flowers
  16. Stress (both emotional or physical)
  17. Anxiety

The list is not exhaustive but indicative.

The triggers differ from one person to another.

Even for the same person the trigger could be more than one and vary from time to time. Maintain a migraine diary to track patterns. Keep a log of what you eat/drink, when did you sleep, went out etc. to find out what are you sensitive to. The best coping mechanism is to learn how to deal with your triggers. For example, if you have to go out in sun, drink plenty of fluids to dodge the migraine attack. Following a healthy routine goes without saying!

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