Migraine patients frequently complain that one of the following 4 things precipitates a headache:
1. Improper sleep:
This is probably the most important precipitant. Often it is the lack of sleep that precipitates a migraine, but sometimes sleeping too much can precipitate a migraine as well. Therefore, it is important that people with migraine go to sleep at a fixed time, sleep for 8 hours, and then wake up at a fixed time.
If you some problem because of which you cannot sleep well, then it needs to be evaluated and treated. For example, obstructive sleep apnea can worsen your migraine.
This is another important precipitant. If you find that you frequently run out of food at work or while traveling, you should keep some fruit with you at all times.
Lack of sleep and hunger can cause severe attacks of migraine.
3. Dust, smoke or bright light:
Most of us are exposed to these things while traveling. Smoke from cigarettes can also precipitate migraine headaches in some people.
6. Sadness, anxiety and other psychological stressors:
If you are very stressed out or anxious because of sad events in your life, or an upcoming deadlines your headache can become worse. These are diseases of the mind. There is no reason to be ashamed about them. You should think of these as being “fevers of the mind” and seek appropriate help from your doctor.
There are a few other things which may precipitate a headache in some patients. Other patients may report that these do not cause their headaches. If they don’t cause your headaches, then by all means enjoy them!
For example perfumes, scented powder, paints, petrol, kerosene etc.
2. Strong tastes:
For example, radish, chocolate, cheese, pickles etc. Red wine may also precipitate a headache. Most people will not complain of a headache after white wine.
3. Chemicals in the food:
Food from restaurants/shops often has coloring and preservatives which can precipitate a migraine headache in some patients. MSG in Chinese food, and artificial sweeteners are some of the other chemicals in food that can precipitate a headache.
Long travel on winding roads can often precipitate a migraine. In fact, this used to happen to me when I was younger! Try traveling by trains for longer journeys instead.
A headache diary can be very useful in identifying potential triggers. Its very simple – every time you have a headache, you note in a diary how much you slept the previous day, whether you were exposed to smoke/dust/sunlight, whether you traveled and what you ate.
A headache diary is invaluable in identifying your “triggers” for migraine.
Gradually, you will realize that certain small things precipitate your headaches. As I mentioned before, you may become headache-free!