It is not clear exactly how a migraine works. But doctors think it may be related to changes in some of your brain’s chemicals.
Many people notice that certain things set off a migraine. Triggers can include:
- certain foods, such as red wine or other alcohol, aged cheeses and chocolate
- food products and additives, such as MSG (monosodium glutamate), nitrates and nitrites (used in hot dogs and other processed meats) and artificial sweeteners (like NutraSweet)
- sleep problems (too much or too little sleep, or irregular sleep patterns)
- hormone changes in women, usually due to birth control pills, having your period, being pregnant or being in menopause
- dehydration (not drinking enough water)
- stress, anxiety, or other emotional problems. Some people get migraines when stress levels change, as when they start vacation or finish a stressful project at work
- environmental factors, such as perfumes, certain lights or temperature changes
Find your migraine triggers
The best way to prevent migraine is to avoid triggers. If you do not know what triggers your migraine, try keeping a headache diary.
Write down what you did just before a migraine started. Note what you ate, how well you slept, and any other factors that may have triggered your headache. Then avoid these triggers as much as you can.