Nobody wants to suffer from migraines, but unfortunately they are a regular occurrence for almost 6 million people in the UK.
So if you are one of the many people dealing with this condition, here are some of the things you may not realise could be triggering your migraine attacks.
Changes in climate and temperature
Director of the John Hopkins Headache Centre in the US, Dr Nauman Tariq, says that sudden fluctuations in the weather and barometric pressure can sometimes trigger migraines. These are factors which are closely associated with flying abroad, especially to a significantly warmer country. So if you’re planning your summer holiday, make sure you prepare to stop migraines before they hit by staying cool and hydrated when flying.
A lack of sleep is a well-recognised migraine trigger, but sleeping in can also be a cause for many people. Dr Susan Hutchinson of the Orange County Migraine and Headache Centre says: “Many migraine sufferers find that sleeping in on a weekend can cause them to have a migraine […] The reality is that migraine individuals should try to go to bed at the same time every evening and get up at the same time every morning including weekends.”
The smartphone has become a staple asset to pretty much all of us in our daily lives, and while this generally makes things more convenient, it is also having a negative impact on our health. Using our smartphones before bed has been shown in multiple studies to reduce our sleep quality, making migraines more likely. The blue light emitted by the screen on many popular devices, including smartphones, can also act as an irritant for migraine sufferers.
Like lack of sleep, stress is a common and well-known migraine trigger. However, it’s also possible to experience ‘let down’ migraines in the time following a stressful event, as the adrenaline which has been getting you through the stress itself begins to dwindle. Dr Hutchinson says that “many migraine sufferers think ‘I can’t wait until this stressful time in my life is over, and I can finally relax’ only to then be hit with a horrible migraine.”
Stress relief measures like meditation, yoga and an overall healthy lifestyle can help you avoid these fluctuating levels of anxiety.
Visual patterns like the block patterns you see on some floors stimulate the occipital cortex in the brain, according to Dr David Dodick of the American Migraine Foundation. This cortex is already hyper-excitable in people who suffer from regular migraines, making these patterns a common trigger when present on rugs, bedsheets and other household décor.
Sleep apnoea is a common condition that affects around 5% of the UK population. It occurs when the upper airway is blocked during sleep, causing you to stop breathing for periods of time. Because of the decrease in oxygen concentration which sleep apnoea causes, it has also been shown to lead to migraines. Luckily, the condition is treatable.
Food-related migraine triggers often differ greatly between sufferers, but there are some foods which are widely associated with migraines, such as red wine and processed meats. Aged cheeses and fermented food like kimchi or pickles can also lead to migraines, and research has found a link between migraines and artificial sweeteners found in things like diet fizzy drinks.
The headache tree
If you’re planning your summer holiday, you may be considering a break in sunny California. Well if you are, beware! The “Umbellularia californica” [‘California Laurel’] is a tree that’s only found in the coastal woodlands of California, and has a substance in its leaves (umbellulone) which activates a receptor on pain nerve endings that trigger migraines. That’s right, this tree can cause migraines simply by touching it, so admire with your eyes only.
Effective migraine medication is available from Express Pharmacy. Contact the team today for help and advice by calling 0208 123 07 03 or using our discreet online Live Chat service.