10 Factors That Can Trigger a Migraine or Headache

There are many types of headaches, as well as types of migraines.  Headaches can also be mistaken for migraines quite often.  Although, triggers for both a headache and a migraine can be similar.  Figuring out what happens immediately before you experience the pain and what happens during the attack can help with making a diagnosis.  Key factors that can impact a migraine or a headache are sleep routines, exercise, diet, hydration, and stress management.

A tension headache feels like an elastic band is squeezing your head.  It is caused by the contraction of muscles between the head and neck.  However, a migraine tends to be a more painful throbbing pain at the front or side of the head.

Here are a few factors that can trigger a headache and/or a migraine.  Keeping a trigger diary can help you determine exactly what your specific triggers are.

1. Stress

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Stress can cause your muscles to tense up around your neck and head.  This can lead to changes in chemical activity in the brain to change and the blood vessels that surround the skull to function erratically.  It is even possible to experience a migraine after your stress level drops.  The body sends out a rapid release of neurotransmitters that impulse the blood vessels to constrict then dilate.  This can cause a migraine or a headache.

2. Computer screen


Sitting in front of a computer screen for long periods of time can cause migraines.  Taking breaks, using anti-glare, and good lighting can help.  Another factor how you are sitting, in front of the computer.  Sitting uncomfortably can cause muscle tension to build up in the head, neck, and shoulders which can contribute to the onset of a tension headache.

3. Pent-up Anger


When you get angry, the muscles in the back of your neck and scalp tense up.  This can cause a tight band-like sensation around your head, which is also called a tension headache.  Figure out an outlet that can help you release some of that pent-up anger like kick-boxing or yoga can help avoid a tension headache.

4. Food


Certain foods can cause chemical reactions in your brain and trigger a headache or a migraine.  Common foods such as turkey, aged cheeses, fizzy drinks, dark chocolate, vinegar, and processed foods can trigger a headache.  Keep a trigger diary of which foods cause a headache or a migraine after you eat them.  This will help you to know which foods to eliminate from your diet.

5. Sleep


Oversleeping, sleep loss and sleeping in quick shifts are all common headache/migraine triggers.  The recommended sleep span for a typical adult is seven to eight hours a night.

6. Physical Activity


Being overactive or too inactive can cause migraines.   Intense exercise can trigger headaches as well as not been active enough.  Finding the perfect balance between the amount of exercise to do is key.  Try to aim for 20-30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.

7. Hunger


Skipping meals can trigger a headache or a migraine.  Skipping a meal causes the blood glucose levels to drop.

8. Hormones

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Women are three times more likely to suffer from headaches than men due to hormones.  Female sex hormone fluctuates frequently, especially during menstruation, and can play a role in the severity.

9. Changes in Weather

rainy weather

Changes in weather have been linked to the onset of headaches and migraines.  The pressure changes trigger chemical and electrical changes in the brain, which can irritate nerves and lead to a headache.

10. Dehydration

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The recommended amount of water you should drink per day is at least 8 sixteen ounce glasses.  Mild dehydration is linked to causing migraines in some people.

7 thoughts on “10 Factors That Can Trigger a Migraine or Headache”

  1. As a migraine sufferer Its easy to know all of these, but it’s always helpful to be reminded of them. I’m guilty of letting a few of these slide… especially the exercise and drinking enough water. thank you for posting this!🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Migraines are awful 😦 I get them often and these are great things to be mindful of. A good tip for the computer screen migraines is to get blue light protection in your glasses (if you wear glasses of course). It costs a little extra but boy has it made a difference for my eyes with all the time I spend on the computer!

    Liked by 1 person

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