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Migraine Relief: Avoiding Migraine Triggers

Chronic migraine headaches can make it difficult to go about your day normally. If you suffer from painful, recurring migraines, you have likely already tried to seek relief from a variety of medications and treatment options that offered little to no success. Dr. DeCaria has effectively treated migraine headaches stemming from many different conditions through her unique approach that utilizes conventional medicine, as well as integrative and functional medicine. Dr. DeCaria is a pain specialist who provides integrative pain management for patients across the greater Chicago area.

Migraine Relief: Avoiding Migraine Triggers

Migraines can be difficult to treat, and vary significantly by person. Many people have “migraine triggers” which they know will bring on a headache. Below are some of the most common triggers and the reason these can trigger your migraine. You can consider removing these triggers from your diet, or increasing your awareness of these triggers and how they may be impacting your pain.

Common Non-Food Triggers:

  1. Stress is a significant migraine trigger. It is not entirely clear why but we know stress leads to chemical changes in our body and also leads to increased tension in our neck and shoulder muscles. 
  2. Poor Sleep is tied to an increased sensitivity to pain and can trigger headaches for some people.
  3. Medication Overuse can often backfire and lead to a headache, even if the opposite is intended. 
  4. Hormonal Fluctuations, such as changes in estrogen levels, are associated with migraine headaches in women. Menstrual cycles may be tied to migraine headaches. 
  5. Sensory Overload or Weather Changes: Bright, flashing lights, strong smells like perfumes, smoke, or rain/weather changes can trigger a headache in some individuals. This sensory overload or change in barometric pressure can induce a headache. 

Common Food Triggers: 

  1. Caffeine can lead to dehydration and can trigger a headache. Stay hydrated! 
  2. Red Wine has sulfites which cause increased blood flow to the brain, and can also cause dehydration which leads to migraines. 
  3. Cheese has a tyramine that can trigger a headache. 
  4. Monosodium Glutamate, or MSG, is a common food additive that can lead to migraine headaches. Be watchful of foods with added MSG.
  5. Processed Meats have nitrites which can dilate blood vessels and trigger headaches as well.

Common Food Triggers

Migraine triggers are different for different people. But why?! Each person responds differently to headache triggers and can experience varying pain intensities. Often, triggers are things that lead to blood vessel dilation in the brain or increased tension in neck and shoulder muscles. What triggers migraines in one individual may not affect another. That is why keeping a pain diary is so important to minimize migraine headaches. Keeping a pain diary can help you  notice patterns in when your pain started or what you were doing or consuming when the migraine started. It can also help your doctor to notice things you do not notice. 

So now what? Here are Dr. DeCaria’s most common tips for preventing a painful migraine headache. 

  1. Stress reduction is key. Tools such as biofeedback and cognitive behavioral therapy are great. 
  2. Daily Meditation and incorporating exercise with mindful movements, such as yoga or Tai Chi. 
  3. Exercise in moderate amounts several times a week has been shown to reduce migraine headaches as well. 
  4. Try to keep a headache diary so you can identify triggers and avoid them. 
  5. Stay hydrated
  6. Consider a 21 day elimination diet, where you remove all triggering migraine headache foods and add them back one by one to see if they trigger a migraine. 
  7. Discuss supplementation of magnesium, CoQ10, or riboflavin with your doctor, as these have been shown to be beneficial in those suffering from migraines.

Dr. DeCaria has worked with many patients to identify the root of their migraines and pain, in order to restore function, and revitalize their life.  Using a combination of conventional medicine and functional/integrative medicine she can provide a unique approach to conquering migraine headaches. Schedule your appointment with Dr. DeCaria today at the Revitalize Medical Center in Glenview or Evanston to feel more like yourself again!

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