THE 7 MOST COMMON MIGRAINE TRIGGERS
GLAMOUR South Africa|April 2020
Expert advice for dealing with excruciating headaches.
AMY MARTURANA WINDERL

If you suffer from migraines, you know there’s no perfect science to prevent one from striking. A migraine isn’t just a bad headache, but an intense, throbbing pain in the head, typically behind the eyes, ears, or temples, that can also cause nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound. Some may even cause flashing lights, tunnel vision, and temporary loss of sight. It can last for a few hours, or even a few days, and can seriously interfere with daily life.

The exact cause of a migraine isn’t fully understood, though research suggests the most probable scenario is that abnormal changes in the brain’s biochemistry lead to inflammation, which causes blood vessels to swell and press on nerves. There also seems to be a genetic connection, making you more prone to migraines if you have a family history. Women are three times more likely to have migraines than men, according to the Mayo Clinic, and most people have their first in adolescence, but it’s also possible to have one for the first time in your 20s or 30s.

As much as it’s been studied, no one’s absolutely sure about what will and won’t trigger a migraine, so a lot of finding out what’ll help comes down to trial and error.

While everyone can have different personal triggers, a handful of them are extremely common among sufferers. To get the lowdown on the biggest ones to look out for, we talked to neurologist Mia Minen.

ALCOHOL

Loading up on booze can give anyone a headache the next day, but for some people, even a small amount of alcohol can trigger a migraine. Ethanol is a vasodilator, meaning it expands blood vessels and raises blood pressure. Some people are more sensitive to its effects than others. It’s also dehydrating, and contains various other chemicals that impact the body and can cause chemical imbalances in the brain.

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