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Head Off a Migraine

November 08, 2018

If you are one of the more than 37 million Americans that experience migraines, you are familiar with the physical suffering that accompanies the onset of migraine symptoms. Migraine headaches are a debilitating set of neurological symptoms that usually includes severe throbbing and recurring pain on one side of the head.

Many migraine sufferers will identify their “triggers”—the situations or conditions that result in a migraine. Once you understand your triggers, you can implement changes in your lifestyle to help avoid them. Megan Mackenzie, DO, neurologist with the Dayton Center for Neurological Disorders, and chair of the Neurology Department at Grandview Medical Center, says doing so is the best way to handle migraines.

Though triggers are different for everyone, they are commonly found when conditions change, such as changes in:

  • Weather. Pollen and other airborne allergens, as well as a change in barometric pressure, can cause migraines. This trigger is one of the hardest to control.
  • Sleep. Both lack of sleep and too much sleep are culprits when it comes to migraines. Dr. Mackenzie says some people will get migraines if they sleep in on weekends.
  • Hormones in women. Migraines are more common in women than men. Menopause is often the most difficult time for female migraine sufferers, as migraines are closely linked to female hormones.
  • Diet and caffeine intake. Migraines have been tied to a variety of dietary choices, including excessive caffeine consumption, certain additives, alcohol, and cheese. A lack of food or dehydration can also be a trigger.
  • Stress. Though stress is a significant migraine trigger, it is common for people to experience a migraine after their stress has subsided and they finally relax.

When to see a doctor

If you’ve avoided your triggers and are still struggling, Dr. Mackenzie recommends seeing your physician. “If you’re having chronic headaches, two or three a month, and they’re severe enough to stay home from work, miss out on an activity with family, or otherwise interrupt your life, you should see your doctor,” Dr. Mackenzie says.


To schedule an appointment with a Brain & Spine specialist, call 1-844-211-5482 or visit our Brain & Spine website.