A trigger is any event, change, external stimulus, or physical act which seems to result in migraine. It precedes the attack by a short interval which could be as much as up to 6 to 8 hours. The exact cause of migraine is not fully understood, but doctors and healthcare providers do know that many factors can induce a migraine. If you are one of the millions of people who deal with frequent or occasional migraines, it is important to understand your personal migraine triggers and do your best to avoid them. It may not be easy to identify what is triggering your migraine if your attacks are linked to a number of different things. A trigger may not cause an attack every time, which may confuse the situation even more. Keeping a journal of known triggers such as certain foods, odd or smells, change in weather, alcohol or highly caffeinated beverages may be beneficial in avoiding future migraine attacks. It is also crucial to never overuse or abuse any prescription treatment for migraine. Misuse of medication can lead to increased migraine attacks and chronic migraine symptoms.
Stress: A dramatic increase or decrease in physical or psychological stress can trigger a migraine. Majority of migraine patients report that stress is linked to the onset of migraine attacks. Researchers also found out that between 50 and 80 percent of migraine patients say stress triggers their migraine headaches. Some patients experienced migraine in the aftermath of a stressful event, while others experienced a new attack in the midst of a stressful event.
Lack of Sleep: Sleep disturbance is one of the most common factors linked to migraine. Insufficient sleep is often cited as a trigger for acute migraine attacks. Excessive sleep is a frequently reported trigger as well. Jet lag and changes in your work schedule can also be linked to the onset of migraine. Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder associated with chronic migraine. Chronic migraine patients who suffer from insomnia are at increased risk for anxiety or depression. These conditions have one thing in common: sleep disturbance. Fortunately, many patients report that sleep often relieves their migraine headaches.
Hunger or Dehydration: Migraine patients would do well to avoid skipping meals. Research consistently shows that skipping meals is frequently linked to the onset of migraine. It remains uncertain how this happens. It is probably related to falling blood glucose levels. Dehydration has also been suggested as a possible migraine trigger. Failure to drink enough water has been linked to the onset of headache. A small survey of migraine sufferers revealed that “insufficient fluid intake” was linked to headache onset in about 40 percent of responders.
Bright Lights and Loud Sounds: Bright, flickering, or pulsating lights, or loud sounds, may serve as a migraine trigger. Even brief exposure to sunlight may trigger migraine in some patients even though sunlight may not be a primary trigger. However, it may trigger migraine only if the patient has a hangover. Alternately, the patient may already be sleep deprived, stressed, dehydrated, or experiencing low blood sugar due to skipping a meal. Bright light may be a sort of secondary trigger. People whose migraine attacks appear to be triggered by bright light should consider whether these other factors were triggers.
Hormones: Women are three times more likely to suffer from migraine headache than men. Evidence suggests that female sex hormone fluctuations may play a role in headache onset and severity. More than half of female migraine patients in a recent study said they were likely to get severe migraine headaches during menstruation. A small subset of these patients experienced migraine solely during menstruation. The use of oral contraceptives may make symptoms worse, while pregnancy may offer relief among some migraine patients. Pregnancy was linked to worsening symptoms for other patients. Post-menopause may provide some limited relief from headache severity.
Physical Activity: Intense exercise may trigger migraines. A recent study found that 38 percent of migraine sufferers experience exercise-triggered migraine attacks at some point. Many patients with exercise-induced migraine report that their headaches begin with neck pain. More than half abandoned a favourite sport or form of exercise in an effort to avoid triggering migraine attacks. Some patients report that they have been able to substitute low-intensity exercises for high-intensity activities that might trigger an attack.
Endeavour to know your trigger because the earlier you know your migraine trigger the better you will be able to manage it.
By Mercy Kukah