Migraines are one of the most common incapacitating conditions. Thirty-nine million Americans and over 1 billion people worldwide cope with migraines, making it the 3rd most prevalent illness in the world. If you suffer from migraines, you may have already been able to identify certain things that will either trigger an attack or make one that is already happening even worse. For others, they are just beginning that process. Below you can find ten of the most common migraine triggers as well as some tips to help reduce or eliminate them.
- Stress – stress is one of the most common (and difficult to avoid) triggers for migraines. Almost 70% of migraine sufferers report that stress influences their migraine activity. To make matters more complicated, worrying about when the next migraine might happen can be enough to actually trigger an episode, which turns into a vicious cycle. To reduce stress, try to figure out the major sources of daily stress and take appropriate steps to reduce or eliminate them. Meditation, exercise, relaxation therapies, and other stress-relieving techniques can be very helpful to help cope with the inevitable daily stressors that come your way.
- Sleep – an irregular sleep-wake cycle can be problematic for migraine sufferers. We rely on sleep in order to refresh and repair our bodies. When sleep becomes irregular or interrupted, you may become more susceptible to migraine attacks. Scheduling consistent bedtimes that allow for 7-8 hours in bed, avoiding naps if possible, and creating a good sleep environment can help improve your odds of not triggering an attack.
- Caffeine – While everyone should watch their caffeine intake, migraine sufferers should be especially careful not to overdo it. Having more than 4 to 5 cups of caffeinated beverages (coffee, tea, or soda) daily can be a trigger factor. Cutting out caffeine suddenly can also bring on a migraine episode, so if you’re trying to reduce your caffeine intake it might be best to do it gradually. Some migraine sufferers might find that their weekend caffeine intake may vary from their weekday consumption, such as always having a cup of coffee before work. Caffeine can also be found in other products such as over-the-counter painkillers, chocolate, and energy drinks.
- Hormonal changes in women – women are three times as likely to experience migraines than men. Up to three-quarters of women who suffer from migraines find that they occur around the time of their menstrual cycle. Hormonal changes that happen, particularly with changing levels of estrogen and progesterone, can bring on a migraine.
- Foods – about 10% of migraine sufferers can identify particular foods that can trigger an episode. Sweets, such as chocolate, can be a culprit. It is also worth noting that skipping meals can also lead to a migraine attack. If you know you have food-related migraine triggers, making sure you’re keeping a regular meal schedule and supplementing with nutritious snacks in between can help.
- Environmental factors – for the most part, these factors are beyond our control. Weather conditions such as humidity levels, barometric pressure, altitude, and glare from the sun can all contribute to the onset of migraines for many people.
- Tyramine – tyramine is a substance found in certain foods that are commonly known migraine triggers. Aged cheeses, cured meats, and smoked fish all contain naturally-occurring tyramine. Any foods that are smoked, pickled, aged or fermented can all contain tyramine.
- Dehydration – even mild levels of dehydration can have a negative effect on people who have migraines. Keeping track of your water intake and avoiding diuretics will help you stay hydrated. The recommendation on the correct amount of water to be drinking each day varies based on age, sex, and other health factors. General guidelines state that women should drink about 11.5 cups of water daily and men should drink about 15.5 cups. These recommendations include fluids from water, food, and other drinks.
- Medication overuse – if you suffer from chronic migraines and use medications (prescribed or over-the-counter) each time an episode occurs, it can actually cause more migraine attacks. This is known as medication overuse headache. Working with your doctor to reduce or change your migraine medications is important in order to break the cycle.
- Smells – certain smells can either trigger a migraine attack or cause one that’s already happening to worsen. Some of the most commonly reported smells that have been known to trigger migraines are strong perfumes, gasoline, chemicals, and even some strong food smells.
Natural, Lasting Migraine Relief is Possible
Many people suffering from migraines might feel as if they have exhausted all of their options when it comes to finding relief that is more than just temporary. Upper cervical chiropractors have been helping those with migraines by checking for a specific misalignment that occurs at the vertebrae that sit at the very top of the neck. It is without coincidence that a lot of migraine sufferers also experience neck pain before, during or after an attack. Looking at the head without also considering the part of the neck that holds the head up might be overlooking a critical piece of the puzzle.
Your atlas vertebra is positioned just beneath the skull. Because of its location, it has the important job of protecting the brainstem, just as the vertebrae beneath it protect the spinal cord. An atlas misalignment can happen as a result of an injury or accident, or wear and tear that accumulates over time. This can irritate the brainstem and surrounding nerves and tissues which can contribute to the onset of migraines. An atlas misalignment can also impact blood flow and cerebrospinal fluid flow between the head and neck. These factors can also result in the occurrence of migraines.
At Anchored Chiropractic, we precisely measure these misalignments and correct them using gentle, effective upper cervical adjustments. These atlas adjustments are given with the goal of them holding in place for as long as possible. This has helped many migraine sufferers to experience less frequent and less severe migraine episodes. We offer a complimentary consultation so you can learn more about upper cervical chiropractic care and we can see if we may be able to help you.