Causes And Triggers Of A Migraine

Getting to know more about migraines may be helpful for those who suffer from them.

About 70% to 80% of migraine sufferers have a family history of migraines. Women are three times more likely than men to get migraines. About 2% of children under the age of seven and about 10% of children and adolescents up to the age of 15 get migraines; almost 25% of children and adolescents ‘outgrow’ their migraines by the age of 25.

Although doctors do not yet understand the exact causes of migraines, they are related to changes in the brain and linked to genetic factors. Physiological, emotional and environmental factors can bring on a migraine. They include:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Bright lights, loud noises or strong odours
  • Lack of or too much sleep
  • Fatigue
  • Hormonal changes
  • Missing a meal
  • Weather changes, including changes in barometric pressure or altitude

Certain foods can also be triggers, such as:

  • Alcohol, particularly red wine
  • Chocolate
  • Food additives such as nitrates, nitrites, MSG, tyramine, aspartame
  • Too much, or withdrawal from, caffeine

Not everyone will react to all of these triggers. You may react to one or none at all. The trick is finding out what your triggers are.

What are your migraine triggers?

Keeping a headache diary may help you figure out what triggers your migraines. The diary should list what you eat, what other factors were present (such as stress, not sleeping well the night before, etc.), and when your headaches occur. Keep in mind that a headache can start almost immediately after a trigger, or happen a day later. If you keep a headache diary for any length of time, a pattern will most likely begin to develop.

Click here to download our migraine guide and diary

How can you remedy a migraine?

Once you've got a migraine, the only thing you want is for the pain to stop. You should treat it when you recognize the earliest signs, to prevent it escalating into a full-blown migraine. There are many prescription treatments available from your doctor, but you may be surprised to know that you can get effective pain relief without a prescription.

Advil Liqui-Gels® are one way for you to remedy your migraines. It was the first non-prescription pain reliever approved by Health Canada for the relief of migraine pain and related symptoms such as nausea and sensitivity to light and sound. Since the active ingredient (ibuprofen 200 mg) in Advil Liqui-Gels is already dissolved, it gives you liquid fast relief from your migraine.

How Can You Prevent A Migraine?

After you know what causes your headaches, you can take steps to help prevent them. For instance, if you're getting frequent migraines and know that stress is the culprit, take positive steps to reduce the stress in your life. Stress management techniques such as meditation or biofeedback can help. And don't forget exercise - it's a great stress reducer.

Lifestyle changes can also help. Try to eat regularly and get enough rest. If you have to sit at a desk for long periods of time, get up and stretch. Not only will you be relieving stress, but taking a break can give your mind time to refuel a bit so you can go back and give your full attention to the job at hand.