Discover three prevalent triggers of migraines and effective methods to manage the accompanying pain

Explore insights from an expert on migraines, a neurological condition characterized by severe headaches, including identification of triggers and effective management strategies.

3 Common Migraine Triggers And How You Can Manage The Pain
3 Common Migraine Triggers And How You Can Manage The Pain

Migraine, a neurological disease characterized by intense pulsing or throbbing pain typically on one side of the head, is often exacerbated by a lack of awareness. In India alone, more than 213 million individuals are affected by this condition, with many unaware of its treatability and manageability despite its chronic nature. Unfortunately, reliance on over-the-counter painkillers and dismissal of persistent symptoms often delays early-stage management, leading to potential worsening of the condition.

Consulting a neurologist is crucial for timely disease management and to prevent progression to chronic migraine. While medication may be necessary post-diagnosis, it constitutes just one aspect of migraine prevention. Dr. A.V. Srinivasan, Emeritus Professor at MGR Medical University and President of the Indian Academy of Neurology in 2017, Chennai, emphasizes the common tendency to trivialize migraine as “just a headache,” which can have serious consequences if not addressed properly. Ignorance regarding classical symptom analysis contributes to a lack of treatment, increasing the risk of chronic migraine development.

3 Common Migraine Triggers And How You Can Manage The Pain

Dr. Srinivasan highlights the importance of differentiating between classical migraine, common migraine, and tension headache to ensure accurate diagnosis and treatment. He introduces the 3C model—coping with the problem, accepting migraine, and complying with medication—as an effective approach to managing migraine. Proper diagnosis is critical, as misdiagnosis rates are significant, with approximately 30% being misdiagnosed, 30% over-diagnosed, and only 30-40% accurately diagnosed.

Migraine triggers

Recognizing triggers plays a pivotal role in preventing migraine attacks. By adopting healthy lifestyle habits, it’s possible to steer clear of these triggers, which may stem from external or environmental factors. Common migraine triggers comprise:

1. Weather change 

Shifts in weather conditions or fluctuations in barometric pressure can significantly influence migraine pain patterns. Elevated temperatures, humidity levels, and even the onset of rainy weather can serve as triggers for intense headaches. Taking refuge indoors or regulating room temperature can mitigate the impact of adverse environmental conditions.

2. Sensory stimuli 

Individuals should also prioritize avoiding exposure to flashing lights, bright sunlight, or loud noises, as these sensory stimuli can serve as triggers for migraine episodes in patients.

3. Stress and sleep deprivation are two additional significant triggers for migraines

Stress and sleep deprivation are two additional significant triggers for migraines

Elevated stress levels can precipitate frequent migraine episodes, potentially leading to daily migraine activity. Stress is a primary trigger for migraine attacks, underscoring the importance of stress management practices to alleviate undue tension. Furthermore, stress often results in sleep deprivation, which serves as another significant trigger for migraines.

Dr. Joy D Desai, Consulting Neurologist at Jaslok Hospital in Mumbai, elaborates on common migraine symptoms, which include bloating followed by severe headaches, nausea, sensitivity to sound and light, and occasionally dizziness. However, migraine triggers can vary from person to person, and the severity of these headaches differs among individuals. Dr. Desai emphasizes that despite one’s genetic predisposition, migraines are not necessarily lifelong conditions, highlighting the potential for effective management and treatment.

How can one effectively handle triggers that induce migraines

Advanced therapies have made it possible to prevent and manage migraines more effectively. However, it’s crucial to prioritize lifestyle factors such as ensuring sufficient sleep, staying hydrated, and engaging in regular physical activity. While taking painkillers can offer short-term relief from migraine-induced headaches, it’s not a long-term solution. Untreated migraines can significantly impact quality of life, underscoring the importance of early diagnosis. Making lifestyle adjustments, like abstaining from alcohol and smoking, and reducing stress levels, can contribute to a life free from migraines.