The Most Common Migraine Triggers – and What to do About Them

In his 4th podcast, Dr. Taves addresses the issue of migraine triggers. There is often a correlation between triggers and migraines, and Dr. Taves elaborates on how patients should navigate this problem. He also shares tips on how to avoid triggers.

Mapping out what triggers your migraines involves
assessing what your body is sensitive to and how it

reacts to certain foods, atmospheres, and environments.

There are nine different triggers that Dr. Taves most

commonly sees in the clinic. Although this list is

certainly not exclusive these are the most typical


1). Food

– Common food triggers are: MSG preservatives,

citrus, aged cheese, red wine, yogurt, alcohol,

and caffeine.

– Legumes and dairy and other inflammatory foods

will often exacerbate a migraine by reducing the

body’s threshold for pain.

– Trying out elimination diets is a good start to begin

to discover which foods may be triggering your

migraines. It is a good idea to connect with a

dietitian in your area to help you through this


2). Hormones

– Women often experience more migraines due to

hormones than men, due to the fluctuation of their

estrogen every month. When a woman is on her

menstrual cycle her pain threshold fluctuates and

this can trigger a migraine.

3). Barometric pressure changes

– Pressure changes can trigger migraines because

fluid in the joint capsule of our necks responds

sensitively to the changing pressure outside.

Because the neck joint is affected negatively, a

migraine may begin.

4-5). Lights/sounds

– Everyday lights and sounds can trigger migraines.

Blue light is especially harmful, so Dr. Taves

recommends you turn your phone on night mode.

Be aware of how your body reacts to the lights and

sounds around you and then do your best to

minimize them.

6). Smells

– Common smell triggers are smoke, car exhaust,

paint, and pesticides. Essential oils can help

counteract harmful smells because they are

anti-nausea. Try using peppermint, lavender, rosewater,

chamomile, or eucalyptus oils.

7). Physical activity

– Because you have a 12-pound head on your neck, the

movement and repetition of exercise can often jerk the

neck out of place and trigger a migraine. For example,

the monotonous up and down movement of running

increases stress on the neck, and weight lifting can

damage the shoulder and thus put unnecessary stress

on the neck. However, exercise is extremely important

to the health of the body and can help prevent migraines.

Make an effort to exercise but be cautious that your

body posture is right.

8). Posture

– Awkward postures that strain your neck can trigger

migraines. For example, lying on the couch in a funny

position or propped up in bed reading a book are two

likely positions that would strain your neck, shifting it

from its neutral position. Take care that if you work

from home your desk is at the proper eye level.

9). Jaw

– If your jaw is popping, clicking, or causing you pain then

this may lead to migraines. While dentists can offer

mouth guards to fix clenched or grinding teeth, physical

therapists can loosen the muscles in the jaw to allow

for freer movement.

Dr. Taves closes with an important takeaway. Your trigger

is not actually generating pain, but it’s lowering your pain

threshold. The pain generator is your neck. The movement

of the neck is at the root of the problem and needs to be

evaluated in order to heal.

If you believe any of these triggers are causing your migraines

or if you think there might be another reason why, come in to

see Dr. Taves. He can assess your condition and start you on

a path toward healing.

Click here to listen to this episode of The Headache Doctor


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Here’s a helpful Free PDF

3 Ways to Manage Migraines From Home

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