A Complete List of Migraine Triggers

I have compiled this complete list of migraine triggers over 15 years of studying migraines. This list should help if you are trying to identify what is triggering your migraines.

Stress Triggers

Stress is one of the most common triggers, and comes in many forms:

  • Workplace stress
  • Arguments
  • Crying
  • Worry
  • Fear
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Chronic pain
  • Major life changes
  • Lack of sleep
  • Excessive exercise

Environmental Triggers

Circumstances in the outside world may trigger migraines, including:

  • Pollution, carbon monoxide
  • Bright sunlight or florescent lights
  • Heat and humidity
  • Changing barometric pressure due to weather or riding an airplane
  • Chemical cleaners such as chlorine and ammonia
  • Chemicals used in the manufacture of clothing and other products: new carpets
  • Chemicals in beauty products: makeup, skin cleansers, moisturizer
  • Allergens, including pollen, dust, pet dander
  • Excessive noise
  • Strong odors

“Micro-Strain” Triggers

Micro-strain is the term I use for overuse of the small muscles involved in corrective body movements. These include:

  • Excess use of computers or video games
  • Reading with poor lighting or improper corrective lenses
  • Sleeping on an old mattress or waterbed; using the wrong pillow
  • TMJ and tooth grinding
  • Shivering
  • Imbalanced movement due to injuries

Body Chemistry Triggers

Internal body chemistry may trigger migraines:

  • Monthly hormone cycles
  • Gum disease or tooth decay
  • Hormones produced during rapid growth in children and teens
  • Illness
  • Medication side effects

Diet Triggers

There is a long list of specific foods known to trigger migraines, which is included in the next section. Numerous dietary factors may also trigger migraines, such as:

  • Dehydration – insufficient water intake
  • Lack of critical nutrients including B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron
  • Skipping meals or fasting
  • Excess sugar
  • Excess caffeine
  • Food allergies – peanuts or tree-nuts, dairy products, celiac disease

Food Triggers

  • Alcoholic beverages, especially Red Wine and High-malt beer
  • Artificial sweeteners including aspartame and saccharin
  • Avocado
  • Bananas
  • Beef and Chicken livers
  • Breads, raised coffeecakes, doughnuts, sourdough bread
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Caffeine drinks including coffee, tea, and colas
  • Canned Herring or Sardines
  • Canned soup or boullon cubes
  • Chocolate, cocoa, and carob
  • Citrus foods
  • Cheese, especially aged cheese
  • Cultured dairy products such as sour cream, cottage cheese or yogurt
  • MSG (Monosodium Glutamate), Meat tenderizer, and Seasoned Salt
  • Figs, especially canned figs
  • Fermented, Pickled, and Marinated foods including Olives, Pickles, Pickled fish, processed deli meats, Sauerkraut
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Onions
  • Papaya
  • Passion Fruit
  • Pineapple
  • Peanut Butter
  • Pizza
  • Plums, especially red plums
  • Pods of broad beans (Lima Beans, Navy Beans, Peas, Lentils, Snow Peas)
  • Pork, bacon, and ham
  • Raisins
  • Soy products including Tofu and Soy Sauce

If you are experiencing any migraine triggers that are not listed above, please add them in the comments section!

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