Patient Blogs | Migraine
How I Figure Out My Migraine Triggers

Migraine is a sly enemy, waiting in hidden silence for the right trigger to set it off. Figuring out triggers is a time-consuming task requiring skill in educated guessing and frequent use of the process of elimination.

There are tons of different items related to sight, sound, smell, and taste that can be the culprits in sparking an episode. Too bad there isn’t an easy test for identifying a trigger. To add an extra element of frustration to the mix, triggers can also evolve along with physical changes in the body such as puberty and menopause.

My best advice is to find a comprehensive list of typical triggers on a reliable website. Drop a shortcut on your desktop or a bookmark in your favorite browser for quick and easy access. After losing time to an episode, the last thing you’ll want to do is devote even more time to this intrusive illness with tedious internet surfing.

WebMD, The Migraine Trust, and American Migraine Foundation are a few of the sites I’ve found to be good sources of information on potential triggers. Here are some of the articles I’ve used in studying up on common migraine causes:

Food Triggers for Migraines – WebMD

Tips to Find and Avoid Your Migraine Triggers - WebMD

Migraine Attack Triggers – The Migraine Trust

Guide to Triggers & How to Manage Them – American Migraine Foundation

Many people use journaling to help determine the specific items responsible for causing an episode to start. I’m all for organized efficiency and helpful phone apps, but I’m going to level with you. I tried for a while, but keeping a diary just isn’t my thing.

I was hit-or-miss with entering the episodes which made the data a lot less useful for me. If I’m not going to put the information to good use, then I’d rather spend my time on other tasks like managing my triggers and learning about the latest in migraine treatments.

That’s just me though. You’ve got to do what works best for you.

Once I became armed with the knowledge of my personal triggers, I turned my focus to a couple of other elements of migraine management. There are three other major factors in balancing my illness with living a good life.

1. Lifestyle changes. Avoiding my known triggers meant developing a regimen for eating, sleeping, and exercising. Limiting exposure to certain foods, shielding my eyes from flashy, glaring lights, and protecting myself from harmful odors are all part of daily living for me.

My deliberate nature finds familiar comfort in a regular routine, but at times it can feel restrictive. I must remind myself I’m trading sacrifice for more pain-free days.

2. Medication plan. There are preventive and abortive medicines available for migraine treatment. It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about both avenues of attacking migraine illness and work out the options best suited to your illness and lifestyle.

For me, I took a preventive medication in my younger adult years but found I no longer needed it once I began going through menopause. As for abortive medication, I have pills for when I catch the symptoms early. If the migraine is too far progressed, then the pills won’t work for me. Injections are my best friend when a stubborn migraine episode is at its worst.

3. Keep learning. As the scientific world learns more about migraine disease, medicines can be better targeted for migraine prevention and abortive episode treatments. Keep your eyes and ears open for new information. Share knowledge with your fellow migraine warriors and the non-migraine people in your world.

You can’t educate others about migraine management until you educate yourself. Ask questions and don’t give up. Keep learning, keep fighting, and keep hoping!

Tap into a community of fellow migraineurs on Facebook. Learn, share, connect in our Migraine Support Community.




Photo Credit: 5m3photos / Moment via Getty Images

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Tammy Hader

Tammy Hader

Diagnosed since 1986

Tammy Hader has been a migraine warrior for over 5 decades. A staunch proponent of migraine management, she has developed the knowledge base to help her navigate relationships, an accounting career, and many lifecycle changes. Hader lives with her husband and cat in southcentral Kansas and enjoys writing, cooking, hiking, and football season. Follow her on Twitter, Medium and Bizcatalyst360.

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