Migraine (cont.)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

What are migraine triggers?

Many factors have been identified as migraine triggers.

  • The normal hormone fluctuations which occur with regular menstrual cycles may predispose some women to experience migraine headaches.
  • Some types of oral contraceptives (birth control pills) can trigger migraines.
  • Various foods such as:
    • Red wines
    • Aged cheeses
    • Preservatives used in smoked meats (nitrates)
    • Monosodium glutamate
    • Artificial sweeteners
    • Chocolate
    • Dairy products
  • Oversleeping
  • Alcohol beverages
  • Stress
  • Exposure to strong stimuli such as bright lights, loud noises, or strong smells.

Changes in barometric pressure have been described as leading to migraine headaches.

Not every individual who has migraines will experience a headache when exposed to these triggers. If a person is unsure what his or her specific triggers might be, maintaining a headache diary can be beneficial to identify those individual factors which lead to migraine.

What causes migraines?

The specific cause of migraines is not known, but there may be fluctuations in certain neurotransmitters, chemicals that send messages between brain cells. These changes may predispose some people to develop migraine headaches.

What are the risk factors for migraine?

Up to 25% of people experience a migraine headache at some point in their life. Most migraine sufferers are female. It is estimated that after adolescence, the ratio of female to male patients who experience migraines is about 3:1. There seems to be a genetic predisposition to migraine, as there is often a strong family history of migraine in patients with this disorder.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/14/2015

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Migraine - Triggers Question: What are your migraine headache triggers?
Migraine - Symptoms Question: What migraine headache symptoms do you experience?
Migraine - Treatment Question: What kind of treatment do you get for your migraines? Does it help?
Migraine - Relief Question: Do self-care measures give you relief from your migraine headaches? What do you do?
Migraine Headache - Causes Question: Discuss the triggers for your migraine headaches.