Want to Control Migraines? Learn to Manage Key Triggers
By Erin O'Donnell
A migraine can be set in motion by many different factors, from your hormone levels to last night's dinner. In her book The Migraine Brain, Carolyn Bernstein, M.D., explains that people with migraines have hypersensitive brains that overreact to certain stimuli or triggers. These triggers set off a chain of events that over-excite nerve cells in the head and face, causing migraine symptoms.
Although some triggers—such as stress—are pretty universal, Dr. Bernstein says each person has their own personal pattern of sensitivities. Say, for example, that you can usually drink a glass of wine without suffering, but if you sip it on an empty stomach, you're a goner. That makes a headache diary a powerful tool. After a headache, record the severity of the pain on a scale of 1 to 10. Write down what you ate or drank two hours before the headache began, and any other circumstances that you think contributed. These notes can help you spot your personal patterns, allowing you to avoid risky situations.
To get you started tracking your patterns, here's a closer look at ten common migraine triggers, and what you can do to dodge them.
Erin O'Donnell is a former editor of Natural Health magazine. She writes about health and wellbeing, and lives in Wisconsin.