Avoid Migraine Triggers: Advice From Our Family Care Physicians

Suffering from a migraine can be painful and incapacitating. While finding appropriate treatment for your migraines is important, it is also important to discover and control the triggers that can set off migraines in you. Below is some advice from our family care physicians at Doctors First on how you can avoid your migraine triggers.

Learn your triggers

The first step to gaining control over your migraine triggers is learning what they are. There are both general migraine triggers, which set off migraines in many people, and specific triggers, which are specific to you.

General migraine triggers include stress, inadequate sleep, odors, foods, changes in hormones, and alcohol or caffeine. It’s a good idea to start with these triggers and consider which of them apply to you.

To find your specific triggers, you should keep a journal, detailing what you were doing before initial migraine symptoms, known as prodrome and aura, occur. It may take you a while to learn your prodrome and aura symptoms, so expect to keep a journal for several weeks or months, depending on the frequency of your migraines.

You can also learn possible triggers through elimination methods. You may start by eliminating common triggers from your routine. This may be dietary elimination, eliminating creams, lotions, and other scented products, or eliminating visual triggers such as phones and computers. One by one, add in the items you have eliminated to determine what is triggering your migraines.

Once you learn your migraine triggers, you should keep track of them and share them with Dr. Malik, as your specific triggers may inform the type of treatment that will work best for you.  

Follow a schedule

Knowing your triggers is only half the battle. The other half is learning how to avoid them. The easiest way to avoid your triggers is to create and follow a schedule. Scheduling can help reduce stress in your life which, with 62% of people claiming stress as a primary trigger, is one of the most common triggers. It can also help with the second and third most common triggers, which are missed sleep and skipped or late meals.

A schedule can also help you get an appropriate amount of caffeine, if you drink it, and help you follow a healthy diet to support your migraine management.

If you are having a difficult time creating a migraine-friendly routine in your life, you can ask for help from one of our family physicians at Doctors First.

Control your environment

Besides following a routine, there are several ways you can control your environment to avoid migraine triggers. Some simple steps such as keeping electronic devices turned off unless they are in use and making a house rule to avoid scented hygiene products can help with your migraines. You can also invest in an air purifier to help control scents.

When you go out, it can be more difficult to control your triggers. However, there are still some steps you can take. For example, you can wear sunglasses to avoid drastic changes in light. If you have an odor trigger, you might consider scent blocking, which involves dabbing a scent you can tolerate beneath your nose to distract you from triggering scents. In severe cases, you may want to wear a mask with a charcoal filter.

If you need tips for controlling your environment or a note allowing you to request special accommodations at work, talk to one of our primary care doctors at Doctors First.

Come to our family physicians for advice and treatment

Some triggers, such as hormonal changes associated with menstruation, cannot be controlled on your own. But the physicians at Doctors First may be able to help you manage these triggers through hormonal treatment.

We may also be able to prescribe medication or help you find a behavioral approach that will allow you to better tolerate your triggers without suffering migraines every time you’re exposed.

To discuss your migraines with one of our experienced family doctors, you can call or book an appointment online.

Photo: Freepik

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