Here Are All The Annoying Things That Can Trigger Migraines

Photographed by Lauren Perlstein.
It's estimated that about 16% of adults in the U.S. get migraines, and they hit three times as many women than men. And according to new research, almost everyone who gets these throbbing, nausea-inducing headaches has their own individual combination of specific triggers.

For the study, published online last month in the journal Cephalalgia, researchers looked at data for 326 people who had been asked in a previous study to keep migraine diaries for 90 days. Every night, the participants had to record whether or not they experienced any of 33 major triggers for migraines, but weren't asked explicitly whether or not they considered those things triggers. That included things related to sleep, stress, food, alcohol, menstruation, and the weather (all of them are listed in the figure below).

With the help of headache-data company Curelator, the researchers were able to figure out which of the triggers were most common. Of the original 33, they found eight that significantly increased participants' chances of having a migraine. Menstruation and neck pain were the most significant, followed by tiredness, bright lights, loud noise, too much sleep, restless sleep, and odors.

What going through the diary procedure made clear was that participants often had more than one trigger. On average, patients actually had four. And the majority of participants (85%) each had an individual combination of triggers that wasn't shared by anyone else in the study.

"This new analysis provides information about the correlation between migraine attacks and a broad spectrum of possible trigger factors for each individual patient," explains Christian Wöber, MD, one of the study authors, in a press release. "And is, therefore, a step towards personalized migraine management." So, you special snowflake, there's even more evidence that it's worth figuring out yours with the help of a professional.
Photo: via Peris et al. (2016) in Cephalalgia.
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