What’s triggering your Migraines – 10 surprising culprits

According to NHS Choices, migraines affect one in four women and one in twelve men. Hormones may be the reason why women are more likely to suffer, but here are the top ten culprits plus useful advice as to how to manage the condition.

1. SLEEPING IN – It sounds tough, but it’s worth it — not only can you stave off headaches by keeping your weekend bedtime and wake-time within an hour or so of your weekday schedule, but it also will help your sleep. Shifting your body clock several hours at the end of every week forces the body into a so-called social jet-lag that can cause sleep and health problems down the line

2. THE LETDOWN AFTER STRESS – It makes sense that stress is a migraine trigger for many people, but, turns out, so is the period of relaxation right after. The body’s stress response increases levels of various chemicals that then drop off once we calm down. That chemical change could be what causes the so-called “letdown” or “weekend” migraines. This explains why an attack might strike on the first day of your holiday, the day after you quit a stressful job or the beginning of your honeymoon

3. RAIN – While there hasn’t yet been any definitive research linking migraines with the weather, anecdotally speaking, migraine sufferers often report getting more migraines on rainy days. While you can’t control the weather, particularly here in the UK, you can take extra care to avoid other triggers on rainy days

4. OESTROGEN FLUCTUATIONS – whether that be menstruation, coming off “the pill”, pregnancy, childbirth, menopause or taking oral contraceptives with changing doses throughout the month, can trigger migraines. What’s more, they can also lower your migraine threshold, meaning you’re more susceptible to other triggers

5. FOOD – The jury is still out on many of the foods people report triggering migraines. But while the science isn’t conclusive, research suggest that foods containing tyramine (including red wine, aged cheeses, certain processed meats and pork, to name a few) and tannins (including red wine, tea, coffee and apple juice), may cause an attack. Other food additives, including MSG, aspartame and nitrites, could be headache culprits, though, again, much of the data is anecdotal and not scientific at this point. In people with coeliac disease or an allergy, gluten can also cause migraines. Keeping a diary can help you to pinpoint what foods you think could be setting off headaches for you, however it is advised that you speak to your doctor before making any extreme diet changes

6. OTHER PEOPLE’S PURFUME OR AFTERSHAVE – That strong scent is more than annoying! For some migraine sufferers, it’s enough to set off an attack. Sensory stimuli like bright lights (including the sun, computer screen or cinema screen glare), strong smells (like perfume or cigarette smoke) and loud noises can all be headache culprits. Some stimuli you can’t do much about, but consider wearing sunglasses outdoors all-year-round if light is a problem and asking friends, family and co-workers to go easy on the perfume, if possible

7. DRINKING COFFEE (AND NOT DRINKING COFFEE!) – This one works both ways: Too much caffeine can trigger a headache and, for heavy consumers, not getting your fix can also set off your migraines. This might also be the culprit for your weekend headaches if you’re guzzling coffee all week at the office and skipping it at home. To avoid caffeine-related migraines, try capping your daily intake at 200 mg (about the amount in a cup of coffee). Drinking more than that now? Taper off slowly to avoid withdrawal headaches

8. HAPPY HOUR – The body metabolises alcohol into acetate, which might cause a migraine. To avoid the morning-after pain, drink only in moderation and consume food with your alcohol. While all alcohol can trigger migraines, dark-colored spirits, such as brandy and whisky, and red wine anecdotally seem to be worse

9. SEX – Physical exertion, including sex, can trigger a headache. While the exact cause of exercise-induced migraines isn’t totally understood, it could be a chemical change in the brain, especially among those who are out of shape, or it could be that the very early stages of the attack have already begun, meaning the nervous system might be extra sensitive. The good news is that regularly breaking a sweat can often be a successful way to reduce the number of migraine attacks you experience. If you exercise on a regular basis, the body makes its own “painkillers”. Even better, one published study found that sex can actually relieve migraine pain for some people! If the impact that comes with some exercise seems to be the problem, consider swimming, cycling or yoga instead

10. SKIPPING LUNCH – Routine is key for migraine sufferers. Skipping a meal or fasting can easily set off a headache. We don’t know exactly why, but it might have something to do with low glucose levels. Either way, it’s important to eat regularly when possible to avoid an attack

Schwabe has a natural solution to prevent the onset of migraines – MigraHerb – take one capsule daily continuously for up to three months for maximum benefit. Special offers if you buy direct!

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