Migraine Headache Triggers

Migraine Triggers
Migraines are often associated with triggers such as not eating, perfumes, eating certain cheeses, white or red wine and poor sleep quality. Migraine medications are unique in their action upon the nervous system. A headache specialist should be consulted whenever the treatment of more prolonged and difficult-to-manage headache syndromes is required.

Alcoholic beverages

Alcohol may be the most common dietary trigger. Red wine and beer are among the most likely to cause problems.


Coffee, tea, iced tea and soft drinks have been the culprits for some migraine sufferers. Even decaf coffee and tea can be a problem.


Many people who have migraines report craving chocolate before the attack.

Monosodium Glutamate

Many of us associate MSG with Chinese foods, but it is found in just about all processed foods—everything from frozen dinners, soups and gravy to salad dressings, bread crumbs, veggie burgers and protein concentrates. Read your labels to try to avoid: hydrolyzed vegetable protein, hydrolyzed plant protein, natural flavor or flavoring, and Kombu extract—since these are ways in which MSG may appear.

Processed meats

Aged, canned, cured, fermented, marinated, smoked, tenderized and/or preserved with nitrites can all be problematic. Foods like hotdogs, pepperoni, salami, bologna, beef jerky, bacon and smoked or pickled fish can all be triggers.


This is often a very strong trigger. Many migraine sufferers experience a bout immediately after a highly stressful situation.

Disturbed sleeping patterns

Too little, or even too much, sleep can sometimes trigger a migraine headache.

Skipping meals

Eating at irregular intervals has also been known to be a trigger for many people.

Strong odors

Pay attention to whether perfumes, secondhand cigarette smoke, air pollution, or industrial fumes bother you.


Some migraine sufferers feel that bright sunlight, flickering lights, a series of camera flashes, or overhead fluorescent lighting can be triggers.

Changes in barometric pressure

A change in the weather is often associated with the onset of a migraine. This also lends itself to the problem many migraine sufferers experience when trying to travel. The high altitude, dry air, motion and noise may all be triggers.