How to Manage Your Unknown Migraine Triggers

The other day a friend and I were chatting about our migraines.  We had both just had really bad migraines and were discussing our different migraine triggers.  We ended up discussing what we do to manage those last few triggers that no matter how much we track our migraines we can never figure out.

For us it came down to three main areas that we figured the triggers were coming from.

  1. Chemicals – specifically for cleaning, but also grooming products.
  2. Weather – specifically when the pressure changes.
  3. Food additives

Following is how we manage these three areas to help manage those unknown triggers that are still causing migraines.

Use All Natural Products

Chemicals have been added to many of our products over the past forty to fifty years that were not previously there.  This has been done to lower costs by using synthetic ingredients, to make the products smell better and to have the products more stable on the shelf.  Unfortunately one of the problems with this is that some of those chemicals can cause migraines.

My friend makes her own cleaning products with a combination of vinegar, baking soda and water.  I go the route of using a greener line such as Seventh Generation that lists all their ingredients.   For grooming products I also try to avoid parabens and fragrances.  Read the label to find see if the word fragrance is listed.  If it is try and avoid these products.  I will however use products that have natural scents such as lavender that I have tested to ensure they are not triggers.

You can decide which route is best for you by how severe your migraines are and how much you believe cleaning products may be an issue for you.  My friend makes her own because she knows it is a cleaning product for sure but just can’t narrow down the exact ingredient.  I on the other hand don’t believe one of my hidden triggers is a chemical, but since I am not 100% sure I buy as pure a product as I can.  (I did at one time attempt to make my own but saw no difference in the quantity of my migraines.)

Managing Weather Migraines

Unfortunately we can’t do away with the weather, but you can do some things to attempt to prevent weather migraines.  I know that when the pressure changes quickly it will trigger a migraine for me.  This typically happens when a new weather system is approaching.  I monitor the weather constantly to ensure I know when changes will come.  This way when I know a storm system is coming I can be on extra good behavior with my triggers or even take a preventative beforehand.  Track your migraines to the weather, specifically the pressure and see if you can find a pattern there.

While it is not always possible to do so you may want to consider moving to a place that does not have as much weather change.  For a few years we lived in Houston and I immediately noticed a change in my weather migraines – for the better!  Upon moving to Dallas, I again had an increase in weather related migraines.  So it does make an impact and can be beneficial to move to a stable place if the pain warrants the move!

Use Whole Foods

The list of food additives and foods that can cause migraines is a long one!  One easy way to move away from the additives is to try and focus on foods in their natural state.

You may think it is more time consuming to cook from scratch but it really does not have to be.  I am not by any means a good cook, or for that matter do I even enjoy it!  What I do enjoy is no migraines!  I can cook up a meal in about 30 minutes; it does not take much to bake or grill some chicken, steam a vegetable and cut up some fruit.

When I do use packaged foods to save time I ensure they have minimal ingredients and that I know what most of those ingredients are.

It is also not expense to eat healthy.  I can buy a five pound bag of potatoes and have fries, baked potatoes, and mashed potatoes for a week for less than I can buy a bag of frozen French fries.  Plus the money I save on Imitrex alone is worth it!

Sometimes when we don’t know what is causing our migraines we need to eliminate whole categories or head back to nature to find the solution.  While adjusting might be difficult the resulting reduction in migraines can be more than worth the change.