Migraine Causes 2018-05-26T20:51:23+00:00

Migraine Causes

Migraines are caused by a variety of triggers, which is headache-speak for “causes a migraine” or “causes a migraine to get worse”.  There are many migraine causes, or triggers, and they are as varied as they are non-obvious.  There’s no warning on bananas that says “eating this could leave you in pain” (and I love bananas), nor will any high school counselor tell you to not take a stressful career because your neurons will fire improperly.

If you just started getting migraines, we’d recommend that you start by finding out what your migraine causes are, perhaps by using a migraine diary, so that you can avoid the triggers that cause your particular migraines.  Your particular triggers can be tricky to track because they can vary in severity depending on the date, weather, diet, age, and a variety of other items.

We’ve managed to track down some tricks of the trade to find your migraine triggers, but first, let’s start with some of the most common triggers.


Stress can trigger both traditional and tension headache. Major life events like getting married, moving to a new home, or having a baby can cause serious stress.  But studies have shown that the stress that triggers migraines is the everyday stresses we all go through.  Seemingly simple stressors like getting kids ready for school, marriage stress, worrying about work deadlines, and final exams are just a few that can kick a migraine into high gear.


Barometric pressure is how scientists measure the atmosphere’s weight of the air on the earth. Specifically, when the pressure drops outside, as it does before a major storm, it can trigger a migraine, and/or symptoms that resemble a sinus headache. Pressure changes do not need to be drastic to cause a headache – in a 2015 migraine study, it was discovered that a very small decrease could induce a migraine.


Sleep is a magical and mystical element of your migraine life.  Too much of it, and you can trigger a migraine.  Not enough, and you’ll trigger a migraine.  Thinking of taking a new job, where your sleep schedule will be altered?  Changes to your sleep pattern can also trigger a migraine.  The National Institute of Health says that adults need 7 – 8 hours per night.  More than a third of US Americans get less than 7 hours of sleep.  That’s a problem.

Other migraine causes are wide ranging, and include a wide variety of other internal and external stimuli.

  • Caffeine (too little, or too much)
  • Changes in routine
  • Hormonal changes in women
  • Bright sunlight
  • Humidity
  • Loud noises
  • Glare and flickering lights
  • Computer screens
  • Sex (or lack of sex)
  • Cheese or wine
  • Bananas
  • Perfume
  • Chocolate
  • Marinated, pickled, and fermented food
  • Nuts, peanut butter
  • Alcohol, including beer and wine
  • Lack of food, or a change in when you eat
  • Severe or mild dehydration
  • Food additives
  • Exercise
  • Teeth grinding and bruxism
  • Oral contraceptives

If you haven’t read through our Migraine Basics page, you may want to start there.  Remember that tracking down your specific migraine causes is most easily done with the use of a migraine diary.