Migraine Series Part III: Identifying, Managing and Eliminating Migraine Triggers

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“Healing is primarily knowing ourselves”


In Part 1 of the Migraine Blog Series, which you can read HERE, I revealed the root cause of migraines. Migraines are the result of a biologically structured brain that is over stimulated. In Part 2, which you can read HERE, I discuss the migraine mineral, magnesium, which is beneficial to every migraineur.

Today, I would like to delve into the migraine triggers and how to identify, manage them and if possible, eliminate them. There are numerous triggers which overexcite the migraineur’s brain and lead to a migraine attack.

The most common migraine triggers are:

  • Stress
  • Certain food containing nitrates or monosodium glutamate.
  • Fasting
  • Hormonal imbalance and fluctuating hormones (menstrual migraine)
  • Bright or flickering lights
  • Certain odors
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Weather changes
  • Changes in barometric pressure while traveling
  • Vacations (let down migraines)
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Dehydration
  • Medication overuse

Identifying Migraine Triggers

A migraine can occur a few hours or up to a few days after being exposed to a trigger. When you experience a migraine, it is important to first take a look at the basics:

  • Are you hydrated?
  • How much sleep did you get?

Once you develop habits to consistently stay hydrated and get enough sleep, which is essential to overall health and wellbeing, you can begin to accurately identify any remaining migraine triggers.

It is going to be important to track and record your migraine attacks and take a deep dive into everything that you’ve eaten or experienced over the prior day or two to  identify your trigger. This is going to be an enlightening journey of self-discovery and self-awareness. It is also the first step in becoming your own healer because no one should know you better than you.

After making sure I was consistently hydrated and getting enough sleep, I identified that my triggers were stress and the drop in estrogen that occurred a week to a few days before my period. I was able to do this because I started tracking and recording my migraine attacks. When I reflected on the days prior to a migraine, they always happened before my period and always when I felt extreme pressure, anxiety or stress about something. Interestingly, The American Migraine Foundation found that stress is a trigger for 70% of migraineurs and 75% of women migraineurs experience menstrual migraine.

Knowing your triggers is power!

Eliminating Triggers

Once you identify your triggers, the next question is if the trigger can be eliminated. This can be easy if it’s a certain type of food. You simply stop eating the food that triggers a migraine. A colleague of mine who suffered migraines for years said their migraines stopped once they stopped smoking. If dehydration or sleep disturbances are a trigger, making lifestyle changes can eliminate the triggers.

Managing Triggers

Some triggers can not be eliminated, but only managed to prevent a migraine attack or lessen the severity and duration of the migraine attack if it occurs. I can’t eliminate estrogen and progesterone from my body, but I can manage and balance my hormones. I can’t control the weather, but I can provide my brain with the minerals it needs to sustain its energy levels to prevent a migraine attack from occurring. I can’t quit my job, make people act right, or stop bad things from happening to good people. But I can pray, meditate, do yoga, go for a run, embrace the discipline of gratitude, and teach myself to relax and not worry so much. Yeah, I know easier said than done. But I rather struggle to manage my stressors than to live with the fear of being laid up for 3 days completely disabled with a migraine. It’s hard either way, but we get to choose our hard.

Managing triggers involves a commitment to self-care and personal growth and development. Adding magnesium, wild yam root, topical progesterone, and Vitamin B6 has greatly helped in managing my menstrual migraines. Learning to relax and not worry so much has greatly helped to prevent stress-related migraines.

Being a migraineur has truly been a humbling journey. I have never felt so down and out than the 3 days I am having a migraine attack. I never want to feel that pain again if I can help it, so it has forced me to make a choice. Struggle to heal or struggle with the toll migraines have taken on my life.

Whatever your triggers may be; identify them. Once you have identified the trigger, determine if you can eliminate it. If you can eliminate it; please do. If you can’t eliminate a trigger, learn to manage it to prevent and/or lessen the severity and duration of migraine attacks.

Next week, in the final article, I will share the Migraine Hacks I have discovered on my journey. I would love to hear from you about your migraine journey, so please feel free to fill out the contact information below.

Each week, I email my soul tribe various insights, encouragements, and updates. Click the link to join.

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