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Why Identifying Your Migraine Triggers Is So Important

Why Identifying Your Migraine Triggers Is So Important

Imagine a world in which you could avoid a migraine, much like the person who’s allergic to peanuts can avoid a potentially life-threatening reaction. This comes down to understanding what acts as a trigger for the problem and doing everything in your power to avoid pulling that trigger.

For the 1 billion people around the world who have migraines, finding ways to control these debilitating headaches is a top priority, and trigger management plans often head the list.

If you want to gain some control over your migraines, our team of headache and neurology experts here at Houston Neurological Institute pulled together some information below on the importance of identifying your triggers. Let’s take a look.

Trigger management — a simple concept that delivers results

One of the most important things to understand about migraines is that we don’t know exactly what causes these neurological disorders, which means there’s no cure. 

Even though the exact cause-and-effect mechanism hasn’t been identified, researchers have made some headway in identifying certain risk factors and triggers that play no small roles in the problem.

There may be little that we can do about some aspects of migraines — for example, women are three times more likely to suffer from migraines than men. You can’t change this risk factor, but you do have some influence over stress, which is one of the most common triggers for migraines.

If you suffer from migraines, you should identify the things that seem to trigger your attacks so you can take steps to avoid them. 

We recommend you keep a headache diary in which you record things like what you ate, how you felt, and what you were doing before a migraine. With this information, we can sit down with you to figure out a trigger management plan that should reduce your headache frequency.

Common triggers

We certainly understand that each of our patients is different, and you may have your own unique circumstances that trigger your migraines.

That said, there are some triggers that millions of people with migraine share, including:


We already mentioned stress earlier, and we want to come back to it as one of the most common triggers — nearly 70% of people with migraine list stress as a trigger. There's no shortage of stress these days, and people with migraine seem to be especially sensitive to stress.


When it comes to your overall health and wellness, we can’t overemphasize the importance of sleep. This also includes migraines. Interrupted sleep and poor sleep patterns can often trigger migraines.

Certain foods and drinks

Foods that contain MSG, tannins in red wine, and caffeine are some examples of things that you eat or drink that may trigger migraines. Diet has a strong influence on migraines. That’s why it’s important to note what you ate before a headache so we can figure out whether some dietary changes may help reduce the attacks.

Weather changes

Some people with migraine are especially sensitive to weather changes, so it’s worth noting the weather when you first start your headache diary.

This list is by no means comprehensive, as migraines can be triggered by a host of different conditions, from natural light to overusing certain medications. The trick is to figure out your triggers so we can put a plan in place to prevent your migraines from developing in the first place.

If you want to gain some much-needed control over your migraines, please contact one of our two locations in Pasadena or Pearland, Texas, to learn more about managing migraine triggers.

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