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5 Common Migraine Triggers

5 Common Migraine Triggers

Migraines affect about 10% of the global population, which means hundreds of millions of people around the world share the same goal as you do — prevent the headaches in the first place. 

One of the key steps toward this goal is to understand what triggers your head pain.

While no two people have the exact same migraine experiences, there is some common ground, especially when it comes to what triggers these headaches. 

As neurologists, our team here at Complete Neurological Care has considerable experience helping patients better manage debilitating migraines. 

We’ve found that one of the best strategies is to combine preventive treatments for migraines, such as Botox® injections, with trigger management practices. As we mentioned, people’s triggers are their own, but there are some triggers that top many migraine lists.

Periods and menstruation

Did you know that there’s a big gender difference when it comes to migraines? This condition affects 3-4 times more women than men. The reason behind this gender difference isn’t clear, but we do know that the reproductive hormonal fluctuations associated with menstrual cycles are a very common trigger among women. 

One large migraine study found that 65% of the more than 1,000 participants listed hormones as a trigger and another study found that 14% of respondents said that menstruation was the sole trigger of their migraines.

If your migraines seem to come and go with your menstrual cycles, we can work on some prevention strategies, such as taking triptans proactively or using hormone medications to regulate your estrogen levels.

Emotional stress

The top trigger on many lists is emotional stress. Nearly 80% of the respondents in the studies we cited above identified stress as a trigger for their migraines.

Managing stress is not only a good way to reduce migraines — it can benefit every area of your physical and mental health. There may be nothing we can do about work piling up or the various stressors in your life, but you can improve how you respond to them if you practice relaxation techniques.

Some good stress-relieving practices include:

Whatever works for you, it’s important to carve out time for stress relief.

Certain foods

This trigger is an easy one to manage — once you identify a food trigger, avoid that food. Some common food triggers include red wine, alcohol, chocolate, cured meats, and foods that contain the additive MSG.

Glaring lights and strong smells

Sensory overload in the form of bright lights or strong odors are common triggers for people with migraines. 

If you suspect that you have sensory triggers, switch to products that are fragrance-free and avoid places where you know the lights will be glaring. You can also get lenses that can reflect the glare.


Many migraine sufferers point to weather as a trigger, such as when there’s a drop in barometric pressure. 

While there’s nothing that you can do about the weather, you can prepare yourself and take some preventive action, such as taking medication when you know the weather is going to change.

This list of migraine triggers is far from complete. The best way to get a good migraine prevention plan in place is to come see us so we can equip you with the right tools and medications, as well as figure out your specific triggers.

To take better control of your migraines, please contact one of our offices in Boynton Beach, Boca Raton, or Margate, Florida, to schedule an appointment.

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