4 Triggers That Can Cause a Migraine Headache
A migraine headache trigger is any factor that causes a migraine attack. Most people associate triggers with food, but triggers can be many things other than food such as stress, hormones, and other environmental factors. This article will talk about four common food triggers that are known to cause migraines in some people.
Nitrates are found in many different foods, but are most commonly seen in cured meats like hot dogs, salami, bacon, ham, and sausage. They can also be found in smaller amounts in many vegetables such as broccoli, celery, beets, spinach, and others. Once nitrates are consumed they are turned into nitrites by the body. Nitrites can cause dilation, or enlargement, of the cranial blood vessels which is what causes migraine headache pain. Additionally, nitrites can cause other health problems as well.
Caffeine is another substance that will cause migraines in some people. In addition to headaches caffeine can cause anxiety and difficulty sleeping, two other migraine triggers. In actuality caffeine may an indirect trigger. In other words, it may be possible for caffeine to cause anxiety or sleep difficulties which in turn will cause a migraine attack. Caffeine is commonly found in coffee, tea, carbonated beverages, and high-energy drinks. It is also found in chocolate, another migraine trigger. Be aware that caffeine is also found in many over-the-counter painkillers. Taking painkillers that have caffeine for a migraine headache can actually cause the pain to worsen.
Sometimes it is not a food, but a food additive that can trigger a migraine attack. MSG, also known as monosodium glutamate, is used to enhance the flavor of many foods and is often touted as a trigger. It is commonly found in salad dressings, canned soups, snack foods, and many others. It is also very common in Chinese and other Asian foods. Most people experiencing headaches caused by MSG will develop symptoms within 15 minutes to 1 hour after ingestion. It is important to read food labels carefully in order to avoid this food additive.
Aspartame is not a food additive, but a sugar substitute. Some people are under the impression that low-calorie sugar substitutes are healthier than refined sugar. However, aspartame has been shown to be a migraine trigger, and possibly a very significant one. It is often found on restaurant tables in small individual packets and is used as a coffee additive or to be sprinkled on food. However, it is also found in many diet drinks and snacks. If aspartame is a migraine trigger for you it is important to read all food and beverage labels to make sure you avoid consuming it.