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What are migraine triggers

Some researchers are suggesting that migraines might be related to genetic factors and that you are more likely to have migraines if they run in your family. It is estimated that women are three times more likely to have migraines than men.

While the exact cause of migraines is unknown, one can identify factors that trigger migraines. These are called "migraine triggers". Migraine triggers differ not just from person to person but also in the same person from one day to the next. It all comes down to trial and error in finding them. However, some triggers are more common than others.

To make things more difficult, some of the triggers that are common for one person could be a “protector” for the other. For example, coffee is regarded as a common migraine trigger, but for some, it prevents migraine attacks.

We divide triggers into four groups:

Food, drinks, supplements

  • Chocolate
  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Aged, smoked, pickled and marinated food. Those products contain tyramine (naturally occurring compound) which is identified as a significant trigger


  • Dehydration is a very common trigger, it is vital for patients to drink water consistently through the day
  • Hunger causes blood sugar to drop which can trigger a migraine​​
  • Sleep deprivation

Weather, environment, location

  • Temperature changes
  • Barometric pressure shifts
  • Commuting (metro, bus, flight)

Health, fitness, habits

  • Stress
  • Inconsistent sleep
  • Menstruation
  • Skipped meals​
  • Poor posture

However, individual triggers may not be isolated. Research shows that a specific combination or a sequence of triggers may also set off a migraine attack. Let's assume that for some coffee itself may not be a trigger. However, under specific circumstances like dehydration, coffee may trigger a migraine attack.

Due to the complex nature of migraine triggers, doctors often may ask patients to fill a so-called migraine diary. Usually, after a few months, a doctor would review the diary and seek for the patterns to identify the correlations between the recorded events and migraine attacks.

So, what exactly fits the definition of "migraine triggers"? Probably - everything. Did you sleep well? What did you eat for breakfast? Did you have a glass of wine? Did you experience any sudden temperature changes or episodes of a strong wind? All that should go into the diary. As well as drugs and medications that you have consumed before or after the migraine episodes. It is crucial to report migraine episodes as well.

All this is what we call the Migraine Triggers.