04/10/07 Podcast: Migraine Trigger Identification and Management

MigraineCast Health Guide
  • The transcript of this podcast is below. Ifyou prefer to listen to it, you can do so easily from the MigraineCast Web site.


    Welcome to MigraineCast the weekly podcast brought to you by MyMigraineConnection.com and the HealthCentral Network. This week, we're taking a look at identifying and managing Migraine triggers. Triggers are physical things we encounter that bring on or "trigger" Migraine attacks. Some are avoidable; some aren't. But once we identify them, we can work to avoid those we can and, hopefully, manage at least some of the others.

    Identifying Migraine triggers can take some time, but it can usually be done. One of the best tools for doing this is a good Migraine diary. On your diary, you track when you have a Migraine, the intensity of it, how disabling it is, and what medications you take for it. What some people don't think to track can help identify triggers. Track the weather -- has there been a barometric pressure change? --, what you've eaten, where you've been that day, how long and how well you slept, for women -- where you are in your menstrual cycle.
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    Triggers vary from one person to the next. They can include:
    • Fluorescent lighting
    • Bright sunlight
    • Strobe light or other flickering light, including some CRT type computer monitors
    • Too much time in the sun
    • Drastic changes in environmental temperature
    • Exercise, sex, or other exertional activities. Strangely enough, for some people, a strong orgasm can do the opposite and abort a Migraine in its early stages.
    • Fumes from cleaning products, paint, and other similar products
    • Barometric pressure changes
    • Crying
    • Too little, too much, or poor quality sleep
    • Hormonal fluctuations
    • Fragrances -- perfumes, scented candles, scented body lotions, etc.
    • Certain foods. The best way to determine if you have food triggers is to do an elimination diet where you eliminate a lot list of potential trigger foods from your diet; then add them back in one at a time.
    • Stress - whether or not stress is an actual Migraine trigger is a topic of debate. May experts, including the doctors of the International Headache Society, have removed stress from their list of triggers and added it a list of exacerbating or aggravating factors. That means that stress itself isn't a trigger, but it makes us more susceptible to our Migraine triggers just as stress doesn't give us a cold or the flu, but makes us more susceptible to the virus that causes them.
    Triggers can be cumulative or, in the words of Dr. Jan Lewis Brandes, stackable. In other words, we can have triggers of differing strengths. Some may be strong enough to trigger a Migraine by themselves. Others may be weaker and only trigger a Migraine when we're stressed or when we encounter them in combination with one or more other triggers.

    Migraine is a neruological disease. Disease management is crucial to both our health and our quality of life. Once you identify your triggers, you may well find that some of them are fairly easy to avoid. Others won't be so easy to avoid, but once you know what they are, you can discuss trigger management with your doctor.

  • Coping with severe headaches and Migraine disease for over 40 years has brought me to the realization that learning about Migraine disease and headaches can allow us to work with our doctors as treatment partners to gain control over them rather than them controlling us. Please join us at MyMigraineConnection.com for information and support or for a transcript of this podcast. From MyMigraineConnection.com and the HealthCentral Network, this is Teri Robert reminding you that you can live well with Migraine disease and headaches.
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Published On: April 10, 2007