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Migraine Trigger Mechanisms

The five most common trigger mechanisms are:
Dietary, Hormonal, Stress, Weather, Low Blood sugar

DIETARY:

1. Chocolate ( this would include cola drinks)

2. Dairy Products – primarily cheddar cheese but also milk, cream, butter, cottage cheese etc.

3. Citrus Fruits – orange, limes, lemons, grapefruits

4. Fatty Foods – emphasis on pork, bacon etc.

5. Vegetables – onions, tomatoes and spinach are the most common , fresh and dried vegetables (especially broad beans)

6. Coffee and tea

7. Meats – primarily pork

8. Sea foods

9. Alcoholic drinks – primarily red wine and any alcohol which is colored: ie rum, rye, brandy, sherry, port, scotch etc. (Some people when migraine free will be able to handle white wine, gin, vodka or beer in the winter)

10. Nuts – including peanuts

11. Bread which has not been allowed to rise sufficiently or if eaten within twenty-four hours after baking. Some people will also react to rye, whole wheat or specialty breads.

12. Pastry – it is thought that the flour content is the problem.

13. Licorice has been known to trigger off migraines.

14. Eggs – In any form

15. Sodium Nitrate – mostly found as a preservative in cold or cured meats, especially wieners.

16. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) – commercially sold as “accent” – used primarily in Chinese restaurants.

STRESS: Anxiety Worry Tension

1. Emotional changes such as excitement and shock.

2. Repression of hostility or anger from work or social environmental relations.

3. States of depression.

WEATHER:

1. Change in climate.

2. Drop in barometric pressure – most people seem comfortable at a point near 30. Below that at about

29.95 migraines start to develop. Please check the corrected barometric pressure in Calgary area.

3. Wind may be a trigger for migraines.

4. Sun, especially the glare from the water or snow. This can be eliminated by the use of polarized sunglasses.

HORMONAL:

1. Puberty – many migraines begin at this stage.

2. Menstruation – Migraines can be common pre or post menstruation.

3. Ovulation – some women experience migraines between their periods at the time of ovulation.

4. Menopause – migraines can be intensified.

5. Pregnancy

6. Contraceptive pills – the birth control pill can increase the frequency, intensity and duration of migraine headaches.

OTHER FACTORS INFLUENCING MIGRAINES:

1. Over – exertion – mental or physical

2. Lifting heavy objects

3. Bending or stooping

4. Changes in routine, such as sleep patterns, shift work, domestic or social changes.

5. Light – whether it be bright or artificial light glare, focusing on television, night driving or intensified work, reading, knitting or paperwork.

6. Atmospheric conditions such as humidity air conditioning.

7. Noise – loud or high pitched sounds, whines or beeps, machinery or office equipment.

8. Steam – such as a sauna or laundry tubs.

9. Odors – that are intense or penetrating, cigarettes or smoke, aromas of perfumes, soap cosmetics or aerosols.

10. Low blood sugar for those who do not eat at regular intervals. Migraine suffers should decrease the amount that the eat but, eat five times per day in an effort to maintain constant blood sugars.

11. Histamine – many people report aggravation in the spring or summer due to the aggravation of pollen causing a histamine release.

12. Sleeping pills – certain anesthesias from surgery leave effects producing trigger mechanisms.

13. Clothing – tight clothing, especially in the neck area can cause a trigger mechanism.

14. Dental – Malocclusion of the jaw area or recent dental work, whether it be a filling or an extraction.

15. EYE, EAR, Nose and Throat can trigger off migraine headaches if there is an infection in one of those areas.

The list above is summarized version of possible trigger mechanisms in the migraine headaches. For further information it would be recommended that people write to the Migraine Foundation, 330 Brunswick Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M5R -2A4 (416) 920-4916.


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