The Independent Pharmacy

How To Avoid Migraine Triggers & Prevent Migraines

Donald Grant
Dr Donald GrantMB ChB DRCOG MRCGP Dip.orth.medGP & Clinical Advisor

Reviewed on 14 May 2024

When you’re experiencing the excruciating headaches, nausea and vomiting that come with migraines, you might feel isolated in your pain. However, you’re not alone.

It’s the third most common condition in the world, far outstripping asthma, epilepsy, and diabetes. In the UK alone, six million people suffer from debilitating headaches and migraines.

As painful as migraines are, there are things you can do to avoid common migraine triggers and live an easier, pain-free life. Learn more about what usually triggers migraines and how you can avoid getting them as often.

What exactly are migraine headaches?

Migraines are painful headaches which manifest as a pulsating pain on one side of the head. Victims of migraines may also experience other common symptoms like:

  • Increased sensitivity to light (photosensitivity) and sound (phonophobia)
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhoea
  • Poor concentration
  • Sweating

Migraines can also be precluded by warning signs, known as migraine aura. This is characterised by:

  • Visual effects such as flashing lights or blind spots
  • Numbness or a tingling sensation, often spreading from your hand up to your face
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Loss of consciousness (rare).

Migraines can force people to take time off work and they can be very upsetting. It’s very difficult to stop a headache in its tracks once it has developed into a full-blown migraine, and the pain can often be almost unbearable.

Sumatriptan Tablets (50mg & 100mg)
Sumatriptan Tablets (50mg & 100mg)
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What usually triggers migraines?

A huge step towards relieving the pain of migraines is identifying your specific migraine triggers. If you can stop migraines from developing altogether, or stop them from getting too bad, you will find it a lot easier to manage your migraines and cope.

Confirmed common migraine triggers include:

  • Emotional stress
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Changes to your normal sleeping pattern
  • Certain foods and beverages
  • Excess caffeine intake or caffeine withdrawal
  • Smoking
  • Overly bright or flickering lights
  • Fasting or skipping meals

Finding your own migraine triggers

Migraine triggers vary from person to person, so you might find it useful to keep a migraine diary. You can use this to track the frequency, duration, and intensity of your migraines.

Be sure to record things such as:

  • Food or beverages consumed
  • How often you eat, or if you miss meals
  • Sleep patterns
  • Exercise routines
  • Potentially demanding tasks such as social or work activities
  • Weather (colder or warmer)
  • Menstrual cycle.

After keeping a diary for a few weeks (or months), you should be able to spot common patterns.

Natural ways to prevent migraines

Once you have identified the things that seem to be causing your migraines, you need to take steps in order to cut them out of your life as much as you can.

It could be that as well as pain relief and treatments, a lifestyle change will help you manage your migraines (or eradicate them completely).

Consider making changes to your routine with the following:

  • Get regular sleep. Go to bed at the same time every night, and remove any distractions from your bedroom.
  • Limit your caffeine intake. Switch to decaffeinated beverages instead. If you already consume a lot of caffeine, be sure to reduce your intake slowly.
  • Limit alcohol intake and try to cut down on sugary foods.
  • Get regular exercise, but be sure to do it at your own pace. Exercise-related migraines can be prevented with an anti-inflammatory drug such as Naproxen or Ibuprofen.
  • Develop strategies to cope with stress. Stressful events are common migraine triggers and can be exacerbated by anxiety, fatigue, or excitement. Consider counselling or relaxation techniques such as mindfulness to curb your stress levels.
  • Follow a regular meal pattern. Skipping meals can trigger migraines in some sufferers.

How can I treat my migraines?

While there is no long-term cure for the condition, there are a number of effective migraine treatments available to help you cope with the pain of migraine attacks.

For most people suffering from migraines, Sumatriptan would be the first-choice migraine treatment. If you suffer from migraine and have never been prescribed Sumatriptan, or a similar drug such as Almotriptan or Zolmitriptan, you should speak to your GP about them. People who have been diagnosed with migraine and successfully used a triptan can complete an online consultation with our Online Doctor for easy access to repeat prescriptions.

Visit our blog for more information on what is Sumatriptan and how it works.

Investigating migraine triggers is an important step on the journey to recovery, but sometimes you want quick and fast relief. Suffering from debilitating headaches at the moment? Speak to our friendly Online Doctor team who will be able to prescribe you some effective pain relief.

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