The best way to manage
migraine headaches is to avoid them. And to
avoid them, you need to know what things (or triggers) bring them on. By
finding and avoiding your triggers, you can limit how often you get migraines
and how bad they are.
Try to avoid as many
triggers as you can. Triggers add up, so the fewer you have at one time, the
better your chance of preventing a migraine.
To manage your migraines:
- Use a
headache diary (What is a PDF document?) to find your migraine triggers.
- Make sure you sleep, exercise, and eat on a regular
Don't eat foods that are likely to trigger a
- Avoid smoking and
How do you identify and avoid headache
You can find out what your triggers are
by keeping a headache diary and trying to follow a routine every
Use a headache diary
headache diary (What is a PDF document?), you write down:
- What you eat and drink.
type of exercise you do and when you do it.
- The overall state of
- What the weather is like (hot or cold,
- Other things that might affect your
headaches, such as strong feelings or stressful events.
- When you get a headache and how bad it
- What medicine you take when you get a headache, and how well it
Over time, you may see a pattern to your
headaches. For example, maybe you get a headache after you drink wine or eat a
It may take only a few months before you
can find your headache triggers. When you find your triggers, you can take steps to avoid them.
Keep to a daily routine
Doing the same things every day and at the same times can help
you find triggers. If you change your routine and get a migraine, then you may
have found a trigger. To keep a routine, try to:
- Get regular exercise. If you do
have a migraine while you exercise,
write down the activity you were doing, the weather, and what you ate that
- Keep regular sleep patterns. Sleeping
too much or too little can trigger migraines. If you do get a
headache when your sleep pattern has changed,
this may be a trigger that you can
- Watch what you eat. Many foods—such
as cheese, red wine, chocolate, and foods or drinks with
caffeine—are migraine triggers. If you think something you ate could have triggered a migraine, you may want to try to avoid that food for a few months to see if your headaches get better.
- Eat regularly. Skipping meals leads to
migraines in many people. Try to eat on a regular
- Drink plenty of fluids, enough so that your urine is light yellow or clear like water.
This is especially important when you exercise. Not getting enough water can
trigger a headache.
- Manage your stress as best you
can. Many people get a migraine after a stressful event is over. You may not be able to
control stressful events, but you may be able to control how you
react to them. Relaxation exercises or
biofeedback may help reduce your stress level.
You can't control some triggers, such as
changes in the weather and in your hormones (during pregnancy or
menstrual cycles). But knowing that these things trigger your migraines may
help you have a plan in place when you are around your triggers.
Triggers add up, so if you can limit your triggers, you may be
able to prevent a headache or reduce the pain when you get one. For example, if
it's hot outside (and hot weather is a trigger for you), make sure to drink
enough water so that you don't get dehydrated. While you're in the heat, you
also may want to avoid any foods that you know are triggers for you.
Return to Migraines: Finding and Avoiding Triggers