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Triggers, Protectors, and Predictors in Episodic Migraine

Abstract

Purpose of Review

A wide variety of triggers prompt attacks in episodic migraine. Although experimental triggers such as glyceryl trinitrate reliably produce migraine, natural triggers are much less predictable and vary in importance between individuals. This review describes the most common triggers in episodic migraine and provides strategies for managing them in clinical practice.

Recent Findings

Multiple migraine attack triggers have been established based on patient surveys, diary studies, and clinical trials. Stress, menstrual cycle changes, weather changes, sleep disturbances, alcohol, and other foods are among the most common factors mentioned. Clinical studies have verified that fasting, premenstrual periods in women, “letdown” after stress, and most likely low barometric pressures are migraine triggers. Premonitory symptoms such as neck pain, fatigue, and sensitivity to lights, sounds, or odors may mimic triggers.

Summary

Multiple studies clearly demonstrate triggers in episodic migraine, often related to change in homeostasis or environment. Many common migraine triggers are not easily modifiable, and avoiding triggers may not be realistic. Healthy lifestyle choices such as exercise, adequate sleep, stress management, and eating regularly may prevent triggers and transformation to chronic migraine over time.

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Correspondence to Michael J. Marmura.

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Michael J. Marmura reports grants paid to his institution by Teva for serving as a principal investigator. He also reports royalties paid to him by Demos Medical, Cambridge University Press, and MedLink Neurology. All reported information is outside of this work.

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Marmura, M.J. Triggers, Protectors, and Predictors in Episodic Migraine. Curr Pain Headache Rep 22, 81 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11916-018-0734-0

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11916-018-0734-0

Keywords

  • Episodic migraine
  • Fasting headache
  • Migraine triggers
  • Food triggers
  • Menstrual migraine
  • Weather in headache
  • Migraine diaries