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Those who routinely suffer from migraines know the kind of debilitating pain the condition can cause. Of the millions of people who suffer from migraines worldwide, 38 percent will suffer from one to 12 each year, while 37 percent will suffer from at least one migraine a week. In addition to the pain, migraines can also cost migraineurs to miss work and personal commitments.

While you might not be able to entirely prevent from getting a migraine, you can reduce the number of headaches you get by limiting your exposure to known headache triggers. With that in mind, here are some common migraine triggers you should either avoid entirely or limit your exposure to when possible.

The Weather

When the temperature changes, whether from a cold snap or a heat wave, so to does your likelihood of developing a migraine. On a hot, sunny day, the bright light outside, along with the heat and humidity can trigger a migraine, while on wet and cold days the change of barometric pressure can cause a headache. While you can’t change the weather, you can protect yourself from its effects by wearing sunglasses on bright days, drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration, and by staying out of the sun at midday.

Strong Smells

Whether pungent or sweet, foul or fair, extremely strong smells are one of the most common causes of migraines in many people. While researchers don’t know exactly what links strong aromas to headaches, they do suspect that odors may stimulate the nervous system. The smells that most commonly cause headaches come from perfume, paint, and certain types of aromatic flowers.

Hair Accessories

If you have long hair, how you wear it can take its toll on your head. Pulling your hair back into a tight ponytail can strain the connective tissue in the scalp, which can cause you to experience a hairdo headache. Wearing tightly fitting braids, headbands, or hats can also create the same effect. If you suffer from headaches due to how you style your hair, try using styling techniques that pull less to reduce any strain.

Poor Posture

If you spend eight hours a day slouched over at a desk, you place a great deal of strain on your head and neck muscles. Frequent types of poor posture found at work include hunching the shoulder, sitting in a chair that provides no lower back support, looking at a monitor that sits too high or low, and cradling a phone between your shoulder and ear. If you suffer from frequent workspace related headaches, look for ways you can make your desk more ergonomic.

Foods and Drinks

What you eat and drink can also cause you to experience a migraine. Aged cheese, for example, such as cheddar, parmesan, and blue cheese are all known to induce migraines. Researchers believe that the longer a cheese ages, the higher the levels of tyramine, a chemical known to cause migraines, it contains. In addition to cheese, cold cuts, such as deli meat, also contain high levels of tryamine, and could contribute to a migraine when eaten.

Tyramine is also found in red wine and a variety of other alcoholic drinks. However with red wine, other ingredients may also contribute to headaches. Since alcohol increases blood flow to the brain, drinking may cause the symptoms of a migraine to become worse.


Smoking is a known trigger for headaches, and can even affect those just in the immediate vicinity. The nicotine found in cigarettes and secondhand smoke causes blood vessels in the brain to narrow. Studies of individuals who suffer from frequent repeating headaches have found a to have a significant reduction in migraines after giving up smoking.

Timothy Lemke is a freelance health writer. To read more of his work, visit the website of Dr. Greg Williams, a Tigard dentist.


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