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Can Migraine Attacks Be Avoided?

Knowing what triggers migraine can help avoid an attack. It is not necessarily easy to identify one particular cause, however, because headaches may be precipitated by several triggers, such as:

  • Stress
  • Fatigue
  • Oversleeping or lack of sleep
  • Fasting or missing a meal
  • Food or medication that affects the diameter of blood vessels
  • Caffeine
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol
  • Menses
  • Hormonal changes
  • Changes in barometric pressure
  • Changes in altitude

Foods and Diet

Specific foods are suspected of triggering at least 0 percent of the migraine headaches. Your physician may suggest that you specifically avoid foods that contain:

  • Additives, nitrates and nitrites (usually in processed meats), yellow (annatto) food coloring and MSG (monosodium glutamate)
  • Canned or processed foods, Chinese foods, tenderizer, and seasonings such as soy sauce may contain MSG
  • Tyramine, a naturally occurring amino acid, found in red wines and most alcoholic beverages; aged cheeses and processed meats (including pizza and hot dogs); peanuts; chicken livers; pickled foods; sourdough bread; bread and crackers containing cheese; broad beans, peas, lentils. Foods to eat in moderation include: avocados, bananas, citrus fruits, figs, raisins, red plums, raspberries and chocolates.

Medications

Medications like the ones listed below may be responsible for triggering a migraine attack. Always check with your healthcare professional before discontinuing any prescribed medication.

  • Antibiotics (tetracycline, griseofulvin)
  • Antihypertensives (nifedipine, captopril)
  • Hormones (oral contraceptives, estrogens)
  • Histamine-2 blockers (cimetidine, ranitidine)
  • Vasodilators (nitroglycerin, isosorbide dinitrate)

Keeping a Headache Diary

It is important for you to know which triggers may cause your migraines. One way to do this is to track triggers – such as what you’ve had to eat or drink — around the time of each migraine.2 A handy way to do this is with the Headache Diary on this site. Take the completed Diary pages with you when you visit your healthcare professional and discuss the results to help determine a treatment strategy that is best for you.

 
 
 
 
 
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