7 Things That Cause Migraines

7 Things That Cause Migraines

Tell me if this sounds familiar:

You’re going about your day when all of a sudden, you start to feel a throbbing pain in your temples.

You try to tough it out, but eventually, the pain becomes so severe that you have to lie down in a dark room until it passes.

If you’ve ever experienced a migraine, you know how debilitating it can be.

But what exactly causes migraines?

While the exact cause is still unknown, there are some common triggers that can bring them on.

Here are seven things that cause migraines:

7 Things That Cause Migraines

1. Hormonal changes

For women, migraines often occur during times of hormonal fluctuation, such as during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. (1)

Most women find that their migraine headaches improve once they reach menopause.

2. Foods

In some people, certain foods can trigger migraines.

Common migraine-triggering foods include aged cheeses, chocolate, caffeine, and red wine.

Other potential triggers include artificial sweeteners, monosodium glutamate (MSG), nitrates, and nitrites. (2)

3. Stress

Stress is a common migraine trigger.

In fact, migraines are often referred to as “stress headaches.”

Just think about it.

How many times have you gotten a migraine after a particularly stressful day?

4. Sensory stimuli

Bright lights, loud noises, and strong smells can trigger migraines in some people. (3)

This is why many people with migraines prefer to lie down in a dark and quiet room when they’re experiencing a migraine attack.

5. Sleep changes

Changes in sleep patterns can trigger migraines.

Recent research suggests that migraine headaches are more common in people who either sleep too much or too little. (4)

6. Weather changes

Weather changes have also been known to trigger migraines. 

According to the American Migraine Foundation, a drop in barometric pressure can trigger migraines. (5)

Hot weather, high humidity, and sudden temperature changes can also be migraine triggers for some people.

7. Medications

Certain medications, such as birth control pills and vasodilators, can trigger migraines. (6)

If you’re taking medication and notice that you’re starting to get migraines, talk to your doctor about changing your medication.

How to manage migraines

If you experience migraines, there are some things you can do to manage them.

Here are a few tips:

  • Keep a migraine diary: If you find that certain foods, weather changes, or stressors trigger your migraines, make a note of it in a migraine diary. This can help you to avoid potential triggers in the future.
  • Get enough sleep: Make sure you’re getting enough sleep each night. This can help to avoid migraines triggered by sleep changes.
  • Manage stress: Take some time each day to relax and unwind.
  • Try hot packs and heating pads: Applying heat to your neck or head can sometimes help to relieve migraines.
  • Over-the-counter pain relievers: If you’re experiencing a mild migraine, over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can sometimes help.
  • Prescription medications: If over-the-counter pain relievers don’t work, your doctor may prescribe medication to help relieve your migraines.

See your doctor

If you’re struggling to manage your migraines, talk to your doctor.

They may be able to help you find a treatment that works for you.


Migraines are a common type of headache that can be debilitating.

While the exact cause is unknown, some things can cause migraines, such as hormonal changes, certain foods, stress, and sensory stimuli.

If you experience migraines, you can try keeping a migraine diary to avoid potential triggers, get enough sleep, and manage stress.

However, if you’re struggling to manage your migraines, talk to your doctor.

They may be able to help you find a treatment that works for you.

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