Do You Suffer from Migraines?
If you suffer from migraines – as I do occasionally – this will sound familiar…
- Throbbing pain on one side of your head that gets worse when you move around
- Sensitivity to bright lights and loud noises
- and the need to lie down in a dark quiet room
These are my typical migraine symptoms. Other symptoms can include:
- Vision or hearing disturbances
- Sensitivity to smells
If you don’t suffer from migraines, it may be difficult to understand the difference between a migraine and a regular headache.
A migraine is more severe than a regular headache, can be very painful, and can last up to 72 hours. Many migraine sufferers cannot carry out their daily activities once a migraine comes on – activities such as working or driving a car can become impossible.
What causes a migraine?
Migraines can be triggered by certain foods, drinks or food additives, or by environmental factors – each person has their own trigger or variety of triggers.
Some common food related migraine triggers include:
- Alcohol (especially red wine, beer and sherry)
- Artificial sweeteners (e.g., aspartame and sucralose)
- Sulphites (e.g., dried fruit, canned vegetables, jam, wine and beer)
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG) (e.g., Chinese food, soy sauce, some salad dressings)
- Aged and fermented cheeses (e.g., blue cheese, feta, Swiss, parmesan)
- Smoked and pickled foods
- Canned soups
- Canned, cured, or processed meats
- Certain beans such as chickpeas, fava, broad, lima and pinto
- Fatty foods
Other common migraine triggers include:
- Not eating enough, fasting or skipping meals
- Not drinking enough fluids and becoming dehydrated
- Not getting enough sleep – or getting too much sleep
- Bright or flickering light
- Loud noises
- Changes in weather
- Strong scents
- Allergic reactions
- Caffeine withdrawal
- Certain medications (e.g., birth control pills).
Some people can avoid migraines by knowing their triggers. Two of my common triggers are not eating enough (especially earlier in the day) and being dehydrated. These are two triggers that are easily fixed, and now I don’t get migraines nearly as often as I used to.
If you’re not sure what your triggers are, try keeping a diary of your food and fluid intake, sleeping patterns and other potential triggers, and when you get migraines – there may be certain things you can change or avoid to help reduce your risk of developing a migraine.