Medically reviewed by Emily Maurer, NP on September 1, 2020
While migraines often come and go without warning, most people have a set of potential triggers that can set one off. These triggers often vary from person to person, but there are a few that most people will be familiar with: overexertion, stress, and so on.
Still, there are plenty of potential triggers out there that are less well-known. Some of the most often-overlooked triggers include:
- Skipping a meal
Simply put, your body needs a regular intake of food and water in order to function properly. While dehydration is a well-known migraine trigger, meal skipping can be just as dangerous. Make sure that your daily schedule always includes space for meals, even if they have to be smaller due to time constraints.
Regular gum chewing can irritate muscles and joints in the head, significantly increasing the chance of migraine headaches. A 2013 study found that over 85% of gum-chewing migraineurs experienced a reduction in headache activity once they cut out gum entirely, and nearly two thirds saw their headaches go away entirely.
Seasonal allergies often lead to nasal and sinus congestion, one of biggest risk factors for developing a migraine. If you suffer from severe allergies during certain times of the year, consider taking decongestants or antihistamines in order to keep the passages in your head as clear as possible.
- Birth control
Many of the most common forms of birth control contain estrogen, a hormone closely linked to migraine activity. Drops in estrogen levels have been linked to the arrival of migraines, and these hormonal fluctuations are generally less intense when you’re on hormonal birth control, which can mean fewer migraines for many women. However, some still experience migraines during the placebo week of birth control pills and if you’re one of those women you should consider birth control options that you can take continuously. If you’re going to stop taking birth control, talk to your doctor about how to avoid the potential side effects of the dip in your body’s estrogen levels.
- Screen time
Most people are spending more time than ever on their devices, and this bump in screen time can have an adverse effect on migraine activity. Recent studies have shown that higher levels of time on smartphones or computers generally correlate with larger numbers of migraines — meaning that those looking to avoid headaches should be looking for ways to reduce their screen time, too.
- Powerful smells
Despite being one of the least-discussed migraine triggers, up to 50% of migraine sufferers report that intense odors can spark a headache. It may be difficult to outright avoid these scents in daily life, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some things you can still do such as wearing milder perfumes or colognes.
Just like how stress can trigger migraines, other negative emotions can do just the same. Because grief is often a particularly powerful feeling, it carries with it a high chance of migraine activity. Whenever you start to feel intense negative emotions, try your best to focus on acceptance and relaxation. If you feel you are getting grief associated migraines, you may consider consulting a therapist to help guide you. Getting through grief is never easy, but getting through it with a migraine is even harder.
- The weekend
Of course, the weekend itself doesn’t actually cause migraines — but your variations in behavior do. On the weekends, people tend to eat differently, act differently, and sleep differently, all of which can overwhelm your body into triggering a migraine. While there’s nothing wrong with embracing the break, don’t overdo it on Saturday just to suffer on Monday.
No list of migraine triggers is going to be exhaustive; each person is impacted differently by different things. Get in contact with one of our experts here at Nurx for a customized treatment plan that works for you.