More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Migraine Triggers: Your Personal Checklist
by Brunilda Nazario, WebMD
December 20, 2007

Migraine triggers can include foods, beverages, activities and exercise, medications, stress, sleep deprivation, hunger, odors, hormones, and other changes.

To help determine what triggers your migraines, print the list below. Then check the list for potential migraine triggers when you get the first signs of an attack. After a few weeks or month, review the checklist to see if you can find a pattern for your migraine triggers. While triggers can be tricky to determine, chances are that the items that get the most checks may be your key personal triggers.

After you?ve narrowed down migraine triggers that may affect you, take the checklist to your next doctor?s visit and discuss these triggers. Your doctor can give you additional medical advice in how to prevent migraines by avoiding migraine triggers and taking necessary preventative migraine treatment.

Identifying Migraine Triggers: Your Personal Checklist

_____ Aged cheeses

_____ Alcohol (red wine, beer, whiskey, champagne)

_____ Caffeine (excess intake or withdrawal)

_____ Chocolate

_____ Citrus fruits

_____ Cured meats

_____ Dehydration

_____ Depression

_____ Diet (skipping meals or fasting)

_____ Dried fish

_____ Dried fruits

_____ Exercise (excessive)

_____ Eyestrain or other visual triggers

_____ Fatigue (extreme)

_____ Food additives (nitrites, nitrates, MSG)

_____ Lights (bright or flickering; sunlight)

_____ Lunchmeats

_____ Menstrual periods

_____ Medications

_____ MSG

_____ Noise (excessive)

_____ NutraSweet?

_____ Nuts

_____ Odors

_____ Onions

_____ Salty foods

_____ Sleep (too much, too little, other changes)

_____ Skipped meals

_____ Stress

_____ Television or movie viewing

_____ Weather (changing conditions)

_____ Wine (red)

_____ Others

SOURCES: American Headache Society: "Headache Hygiene Tips." The International Headache Society: "Epidemiology of Headache." The Migraine Trust: "Your Triggers." National Headache Foundation: "Migraine."


My neurologist had me maintain a log over a two year period, which I delivered to him at follow up visits during that time.

He also had me track the severity of each migraine episode (1 to 5 scale) and if any measures succeeded in relieving the migraine.

A definite pattern emerged, and I now understand my own triggers, under what conditions many will trigger a migraine, and how to effectively treat these migraines.

Anyone experiencing migraine would be well advised to maintain a log for at least a year. The information should provide the necessary information for the doctor to make a diagnosis and for you to understand the nature of your headaches.

I kept a log which spanned a month at a time, and would file each monthly log in the same place so I could take them with me to the doctor.

Don't forget to date each log, so you can follow the progression over the seasons.
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