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30 Things That Could Be Causing Your Migraines

Leftovers

After food sits in the fridge for a few days, a compound called tyramine is created as the food begins to break down. Your body naturally processes tyramine, but things like leftovers and fermented foods have too much, leading to a major migraine.

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Caffeine

If you’re having a migraine you should avoid coffee, tea, and chocolate (or anything else with caffeine). Caffeine narrows the blood vessels surrounding the brain. When the caffeine wears off, the blood vessels expand again and give you a migraine.

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Caffeine Withdrawal

Drinking caffeine can cause migraines by narrowing the blood vessels, but not drinking caffeine can also cause migraines. If you drink caffeine daily, and then suddenly stop, you will feel drowsy, nauseous, angry, and have a killer migraine.  You can avoid the withdrawal headache by slowly decreasing your intake of caffeine. 

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Ponytail

Pulling your hair back in a chic fashion is tempting, especially when working out, but it could be causing your migraines. This hairstyle puts a lot of stress on your scalp nerves and muscles, causing strain on your brain.

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Skipping Meals

Not having enough nutrition or energy can cause stress on your brain, leading to migraines. Skipping meals has been found to be the second most common trigger of migraines, so grab a snack and avoid the pain. 

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Computer Screen

Staring at the screen of a computer, television, or phone stimulates the nerves in your brain to release inflammatory neurotransmitters and causes your blood vessels to constrict. You can get a screen protector to cover the device screen and prevent your migraines. 

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Fluorescent Lighting

Certain types of lighting can contribute to migraines, such as fluorescent lightbulbs. People who are prone to migraines are sensitive to light. Fluorescent lights flicker constantly no matter what type of cover or shade is over it, so these lights one of the worst causes of migraines.

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Lightning

The air pressure, temperature, and loudness of a thunderstorm is enough to cause a migraine, but lightning on its own can also cause them. You don’t even have to see lightning, as long as it strikes close to where you live, it increases your likelihood of getting a migraine. 

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Perfumes

It’s no surprise that strong smells cause migraines, but you might be surprised to know that even pleasant scents can, too. There are chemical molecules in perfumes that can cause nerve endings to release pain signals in the brain.

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Red Wine

Drinking red wine can cause migraines, and not just because you wake up feeling sick. The tyramine and tannins in red wines raise your blood pressure and cause migraines. White wine does not have the same effect.

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Cigarettes

Cigarettes have hundreds of negative side effects that impact your health and mood, and now you can add migraines to that list. Smoking too many cigarettes (or smoking too fast) can cause migraines, so put down the pack if you want migraine relief.

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Cheese

Many people claim that certain types of cheese, like mozzarella or feta, give them migraines. Cheese is an aged food and contains tyramine, one of the most common contributing factors to migraines and is found in fermented and aging foods.

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Air Pressure

A sudden, dramatic change in the weather is a migraine waiting to happen. As the cold and hot air moves around the air pressure changes and causes air pressure migraines, also known as barometric headaches. Stay inside and relax on bad-weather days to avoid getting a migraine.

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Stress

It’s commonly known that stress causes migraines, but you might not know that relaxing after a stressful day can cause migraines, too. Known as a “let down” headache, this happens when the blood vessels expand after being constricted for a long period of time.  Manage your stress throughout the day by using breathing techniques and taking breaks when you can.

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Change in Hormones

Changes in hormones affect stress, blood sugar, and inflammation, all of which can be contributing factors to migraines. Starting or stopping birth control, your menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause are all examples of hormonal changes to the body that can cause migraines. 

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Muscle Tension

One of the most common causes of migraines is muscle tension in the neck. Having bad posture, tilting your head, wearing new glasses, and grinding your teeth all lead to muscle tension in your neck and trigger a headache that won’t go away until your muscles relax. 

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Daylight Saving's Time

When the clock springs forward or falls back every year, your circadian rhythm is thrown off. Daylight savings time can negatively impact your sleeping schedule for up to seven weeks. Just another reason to do away with daylight savings time!

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Aspirin

Taking an aspirin might help your migraine go away temporarily. However, many people tend to take aspirin too often, which can cause it to loses some effectiveness. The migraine will only come back once the aspirin wears off and be worse than before.

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Genes

Many people suffer from chronic migraines caused by outside factors, but you can also inherit the tendency to get migraines from your parents. If one parent had chronic migraines, you’re 40% more likely to, and if both parents had migraines, that chance goes up to 90%.

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Depression

Migraines are linked to both depression and anxiety, and if you have migraines, you are about five times more likely to develop depression. These depression-induced headaches can last up to two weeks and are very frustrating to deal with. 

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Soda

Caffeine and sugar are both contributing factors to migraines, so soda is best if avoided. Too much of it can directly cause a migraine attack. Skip the soda and opt for water instead, which hydrates you and helps prevent migraines.

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Stroke

A stroke happens when part of your brain doesn’t get the proper blood supply. One of the signs of a stroke is a migraine that causes weakness, numbness, and vision and speech difficulties. If your migraine persists for more than four or five days, it may be best to seek a medical professional. If you notice other signs of a stroke, go to your nearest emergency room. 

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Loud Noise

Migraines can cause nausea, dizziness, and sensitivity to light and sounds, but loud noises can also trigger a migraine. The overactive nerve cells in your brain make your blood vessels widen and become inflamed when you hear a loud noise, leading to a throbbing migraine. 

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Dehydration

Not drinking enough water will give you a “dehydration headache” from not having enough fluids. The brain will temporarily contract or shrink from fluid loss, which causes the brain to pull away from the skull and leads to migraine pain. Luckily, all you must do to avoid this type of migraine is to drink enough water. 

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Brain Tumor

Most of the time migraines are caused by relatively benign factors and clear up on their own or with some over-the-counter medication. Sometimes, a migraine is a sign of something more serious, like a brain tumor. Signs your migraine might be more serious is if the pain is new or worse than previous migraines, weight loss, or pain with a movement that you didn’t experience before. Talk to your doctor if your migraine symptoms are worse than normal.

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Lack of Sleep

Not sleeping enough, having bad sleeping habits, or having your sleeping patterns disrupted lead to fatigue, irritability, and migraines. Lack of REM sleep changes the expression of proteins that suppress pain and trigger chronic pain that causes migraines.

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Too Much Sleep

On the other side of sleeping-related pain, sleeping too long or taking naps can also trigger migraines. Too much extra sleep affects the brain’s neurotransmitters and serotonin levels. This can cause you to wake up at bad times, such as in the middle of a REM cycle, leading to migraines. Get a good, consistent sleeping schedule to prevent getting migraines associated with sleeping too much or too little.

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MSG

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is often found in Chinese food and packaged products, but it can also lurk in foods like tomatoes and cheese. MSG has been linked to obesity and can cause migraines. Avoid this additive as much as possible to escape an MSG-migraine.

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Nitrates

Preservatives are bad for you and cause all sorts of health problems--one of which is migraines. Nitrates and nitrites are a type of preservative found in hot dogs and lunch meats that trigger migraines. Avoid processed meats to avoid a nitrate and nitrite headache.

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Fake Sugar

Aspartame, saccharine, and other fake sugars found in diet soda (and other desserts) are a triggering factor of migraines. This low-calorie sugar replacement might be the answer to someone looking to cut calories, but it has terrible side effects on your health. Try to stick with natural sweeteners if you're looking to cut calories. Erythritol and stevia can be a better option for those who suffer from migraines. 

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