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  • MindMate Team

5 Everyday Migraine Triggers

Written by Gurleen Khaira

With 1 in 5 women and 1 in 15 men suffering from migraines, it is becoming an ever growing concern. A migraine is a throbbing pain felt on one side of the head and can cause nausea, tummy pain and diarrhoea (NHS, 2019). With their growing prevalence, many researchers are studying the causes behind migraines. Unfortunately, there is a wide lack of knowledge surrounding this area, however, the following 5 triggers are known to cause migraines

1. Hormones ​As we have just seen, women are significantly more likely to suffer from migraines. This is due to the hormone changes related to the menstrual cycle. Many women find that, near the time of their period, they begin to suffer from migraines. These can start anywhere between 2 days before the period, until 3 days after. Near the period time, higher levels of hormones like oestrogen are produced. This change in hormone levels is said to cause migraines (NHS, 2019).

2. Diet There are many studies relating different foods to migraines. Firstly, habitual coffee drinkers who do not consume coffee for 12-24 hours are known to suffer from migraines, with 47% of these people suffering from migraines after not consuming coffee for 12-24 hours. This is said to be the case because they are suffering withdrawal from coffee. Moreover, aged cheese is associated with migraines. This is because aged cheese contains a compound called tyramine, and high levels of this compound is shown to cause migraines. Processed meats are also known to cause migraines. 5% of migraine sufferers get a headache hours, if not minutes after consuming processed meats. This is because processed meats contain nitrites which are preservatives used to maintain the colour and improve the taste of these meats. These nitries are said to cause migraines. (Healthline, 2017)

3. Alcohol Many relate alcohol consumption with migraines. Some drinks, like red wine, are actually more likely to give you migraines. This has been related to the histamine contained in red wine. Histamine is naturally produced by the body as part of the immune system. Those sensitive to histamine have low activity of the enzyme responsible for breaking down the compound in the digestive system. Research highlights that 87% of migraine sufferers have a problem with the enzyme responsible for breaking down histamine, therefore making them sensitive to the compound (Healthline, 2017)

4. Family history If you have a family history of migraines, especially if your parents suffer from migraines, then you are at a higher risk. In fact, research shows that 90% of patients with migraines have a family history with the matter (Migraine Research Foundation, 2015)

5. Stress With chaotic schedules whilst trying to find a balance between work and home-life, it is common for people to become stressed. When this happens, hormone levels change which triggers a migraine. Surprisingly, when we start to relax a bit, this can also trigger a migraine as our hormones are changing again. This is known as a ‘weekend headache’ (Williams, 2017).

Clearly simple things in our everyday lifestyle can cause migraines. We could limit our chances of getting a migraine by monitoring what we eat and drink, and trying to balance our schedules to be more organised and less stressed. However, for more to be done about migraines, researchers and doctors need more information. The only way they can get this is through clinical trials. You can help by participating in a clinical trial, and the MindMate app can help you find a trial best suited to you!

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Migraine Research Foundation. (2015). Migraine Facts - Migraine Research Foundation. [online] Available at: NHS Choices (2019b). Causes                    - Migraine. [online] Available at:  [Accessed 9 Oct. 2019]. Atli Arnarson, PhD (2017). How Your Diet Affects Migraines: Foods to Avoid, Foods to Eat. [online] Healthline. Available at: [Accessed 9 Oct. 2019]. Sarah C.P. Willaims (2017). How Stress and Your Emotions Trigger Migraine Headaches. [online] WebMD. Available at: [Accessed 9 Oct. 2019].


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