Migraines: Curious Triggers

How can you avoid getting migraines? Here we look at some unusual triggers you could have been ignoring.

Published: Friday 19 May 2017

Headache Triggers

Migraines interfere with just about every aspect of life. From work and social life to education and activities, around one in seven people in the UK suffer from migraines. Each person has a unique combination of triggers that can set off these disabling headaches including stress, sleep deprivation, anxiety, shock, exhaustion and even poor posture. Is it possible that your migraines are affected by your weight? New research suggests that they are linked, but how?

A new research review has found that being obese means you are 27% more likely to suffer from migraines. However, underweight patients were also 12% more likely to have a migraine than patients with a healthy weight. Ultimately, the study concluded that having extreme weights (over BMI 30 or under 18.5) can increase your risks of getting debilitating headaches.

Some of the findings were already known, such as the risks being higher for women compared with men and an increased chance for those under the age of 55, no matter their weight.

On paper, extreme weight gain or loss can change the fat tissue and in turn, the function and production of several proteins and hormones in the body, making the host more susceptible to migraines. In fact, regular exercise such as aerobic exercises have been found to reduce headaches, but in some, intense exercise can trigger a migraine. The key is balance. If in doubt, consult your GP.

In another study, scientists discovered that looking at a repetitive pattern of stripes and vertical lines could set off a loop of neural activity in the brain, often resulting in feeling queasy, migraines, or in severe cases, seizures.

It doesn’t take much to provoke it either: clothes with stripes, zebra crossings, decking, radiators, and escalators have all been found to cause discomfort. But vertical lines had more of a negative affect than horizontal lines.

There are lots of ways to reduce the chances of getting a migraine on the Internet, some it quackery, some legitimately helpful and others downright dangerous if followed incorrectly. But you can be sure that certain methods will take you further in your battles against crippling headaches.

Eat healthy, exercise regularly, don’t skip meals, get enough sleep and avoid your known triggers. That’s your migraine cure cracked, at least, theoretically. If not, there’s always a pill for that. Have you tried a tablet from the triptan series?

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