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Weird Triggers

Hello All!

Since the age of 11 (end of 5th grade), I've been getting severe, debilitating migraines. 18 years later, and I only know some of my triggers. My migraines are seriously f'ed up, because I don't fall into common migraine archetypes such as: family history of migraines; common triggers such as chocolate (which I cut out of my diet anyway due to a family history of diabetes, though I will NEVER give up rice (I'm Hispanic, so sue me)), sugar, cheese, and MSG; and the distinct lack of a "prodrome" phase, my migraines just come out of the blue sometimes.

I'm also different in the fact that too much caffeine will send my brain over the edge and I'll end up with a migraine. The only thing common about my migraines are the aura, the nausea, the sensitivity to light and sound, and the fact that I want to curl up in bed with the lights off and bar everyone else from even talking to me until the pain and illness subsides.

Okay, to cut a long story short, I have some very weird triggers. Most of them have to do with my eyes. The last migraine I had, I had swam about twenty laps. I left my pair of goggles at work in my desk and it was a Saturday, so I won't drive to work barring a huge sum of money. Literally, about an hour after swimming, I see the aura start.

This isn't uncommon, as a child and a teenager, simple sweat getting into my eye would cause a migraine. I remember one of my brothers calling me a sexually explicit word when I refused to play baseball with him in the New Jersey heat for fear of sweat getting into my eye and my entire day (and half of the next day) being ruined due to a migraine.

Looking back on it, it's funny, but as a child, I FEARED migraines because nobody else in my family had them and they just thought I was either faking it, overreacting, or that a simple Advil or two would suffice.

Sorry to tell a long story, but I was wondering if anyone else experienced these same triggers. I do have some triggers which are common: red wine (I can still drink it in moderation), stress (#1), lack of sleep, and barometric pressure.

  1. Eyes is a big thing for me too. I have a theory that in your case the sweat actually changes the shape of your cornea by adding an extra layer of optics and thus alters the focussing onto your retina which in turn acts as a trigger.

    I wear glasses and if I change from one pair to another, even the slight variations will cock the trigger and make me go all weird and sometimes into full blown migraine if I release the trigger with bright sunlight, lack of food etc.

    Another weird trigger for me is citrus essential oils. Earthy ones like cinnamon are okay, but mandarin and orange will bring on a migraine.

    Just recovering today from a bad episode yesterday and came out of a very deep sleep.

    Regards, Ian, Birmingham, UK

    1. I have suffered for migraines for more than 46 years and just in the last year found out that onions, especially raw are a huge trigger for me. I've cut them out of my diet and if I mistakenly get one in something I eat elsewhere, I get a three day migraine that is just horrible. Most store bought mixes and foods have onion powder listed in the ingredients as spices. Cutting this out has helped me tremendously. I make most of my own food to try and control the ingredients that trigger my migraines.

      I can relate to your search for triggers. I hope you can zero in on them and wish you the best in your search.

      1. How about going to the movie? I found that every time I went to the theater I would have a throbbing migraine by the end of the movie. I have my glasses checked every year and they rarely need to be adjusted for strength but yet I get migraines from certain optical things. I can't help but wonder if using the laptop and/or larger monitor is causing some of it since I can't go to the large screen movies!

        Alcohol! nope, can't drink it. Looking back at my college years my hangovers weren't hangovers at all. They were two-to-three-day migraines from drinking alcohol. They had all the symptoms of a migraine. Severe headache coupled with light sensitivity and vomiting.

        Don't burn candles as some will have a terrible burnt odor that will trigger a migraine.

        Flying...Every trip I took that was of any length (Ireland, France, Mexico) I spent the first day of the trip in the bathroom. Don't know if it was the physical changes due to the airplane or the stress of doing something out of the ordinary, (I am thinking the second).

        I have not found any foods I can't eat. I tracked atmospheric pressures, temperatures, precipitation etc. for several months. No correlation to the occurrences of migraines.

        I am beginning to think my house is trying to kill me! No migraines while on vacation but the day I get back I get one!

        1. thanks for sharing this post here. You certainly highlight so many everyday experiences that can trigger migraines. It can feel a bit limiting living in this world, but I suppose the silver lining it knowing what to avoid to at least help to reduce our chances of an attack.
          Alene (team member)

        2. That's interesting about your house. Have you ever had allergy testing, or tried an air purifier? It's definitely possible that something in the house is triggering you. The other thought I have (as a non-expert, just guessing here) is that it could be a "letdown migraine" from the change in routine ... this is common when you go from a stressful situation, like work, and then it ends, like the weekend. It's possible that the stress of travel could be causing letdown migraines for you. Just some things to explore. What do you think? -Melissa, team member

      2. Hi Melissa, My wife and I believe we need to do some deep cleaning. She started coughing after arriving home from vacation. I had 2 migraine headaches 2 days in a row after getting home. I also believe I have let-down migraines. I usually get the migraines after an event or trip.

        Thanks for the suggestions.

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