5 Odd Migraine Headache Causes

Quincy AdamMigraine Lifestyle

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There are so many causes of migraines that sometimes it’s hard to sift through them all to figure out what led to your pounding headache. Here are some migraine headache triggers that you might not have previously considered.

1. Stress

The kids are squabbling. Your spouse has gone on a spending spree that you can’t afford. And your mother-in-law has overstayed her weekend welcome. You’re stressed out, and that means a migraine could be on its way.

What’s going on? According to Dr. Merle Diamond, director of the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago, “I think stress is a trigger for migraine because it changes the excitability of your brain.”1 She explains that if you suffer from migraines, you’re likely to have a more sensitive nervous system that turns on when you’re dealing with change…the root of stress.

2. Extreme Weather

Extreme weather, such as hurricanes, can set off those hammers in your head. Why? When the weather is extreme, seeking shelter could be the key to survival. Besides the meteorologists who report on weather events such as hurricanes and floods, who wants to be at the center of the storm? Who wants to swelter in scorching heat and high humidity? Given the human bias for safety, researchers believe evolution plays a role in migraine sufferers’ extra sensitivity to heat, wind, and rain. It is likely a protective mechanism developed by their forbearers and inherited, which is designed to keep them safe in inhospitable conditions.

Is the weather causing your migraines? To find out, keep a migraine diary and record extreme weather along with all the other possible migraine triggers. That’s the sleuth work you need to do to find the answer.

3. Scents

Does your home need a new coat of paint? Doing it yourself may sound like a headache…and may lead to one, too.

That’s because migraines can be brought on by powerful scents, such as those from paint, gasoline, perfume and even a beautiful bouquet of roses. In fact, half the people who suffer from migraines report that strong smells trigger them.2

There are no complete answers as to why odors trigger migraines, but healthcare professionals speculate that migraine sufferers are more sensitive to odors than are other people.

4. Citrus Fruits

Every day, someone is telling you to eat lots of fruit and veggies. How could something like an orange possibly be bad for you? It seems odd, but citrus fruits are one of the many foods that can trigger migraines. There are, of course, plenty of other foods that trigger migraines in some people. Sadly, chocolate and cheese are on the list as well. Also, other possible triggers include nuts, dried fruit, foods that contain additives, such as MSG, and anything with artificial sweeteners.

Obviously, you cannot cut out every potential food trigger out of your diet without tremendous sacrifice. So, once again, it’s a good idea to keep a diary to track which food specifically makes your head hurt.

5. Hunger Pangs

Hunger alone is bad enough. Add to that a migraine and you’re in sorry shape. Medical professionals theorize that this issue is related to a dip in blood sugar levels.

The key is not to skip a meal, and to snack in healthy ways throughout the day, ensuring you never go more than three hours without something in your stomach. Plan ahead. You don’t want to find yourself stopping by the vending machine for your favorite candy bar. The sugar it contains can add to the problem, causing your blood sugar levels to spike and then plunge.

Besides stress, weather, odors, foods and hunger, there are many other migraine triggers. If you’re suffering from pounding headaches, make sure you visit your doctor and seek his or her advice on how to deal best with your condition.

1 “Is Stress Causing Your Migraines?” http://www.everydayhealth.com/headache-and-migraines/webcasts/is-stress-causing-your-migraines.aspx. Accessed April 4, 2016.
2 Lee Ann Swenson, “How Do Odors Impact Migraine Sufferers?” https://www.excedrin.com/stories/can-smells-cause-migraines/#note-672-3. Accessed November 20, 2015.