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It takes a lifetime to figure it all out

I started having migraines during 4th grade, in 1963. I am now 57. When I was little, doctors thought I did not have migraines because I never had an aura. I never threw up. Half my head hurt, I teared, swelled up, stuffed up, and was entirely miserable.

Teachers humiliated me in front of the class for not being able to complete my homework if I brought a note from home telling of my headache. Others advised I just think about not having a headache. HA! I started migraining at the very beginning of puberty. 1963 was the dawning of the age of artificial preservatives, colors and ingredients in prepared food.

In 1963, classic migraine treatment was all about medicines – fiornal, cafergot, bellergal. I took too much aspirin, (no Tylenol or Advil yet). My ears were always ringing. One open-minded doctor recommended I learn transcendental meditation in 1969. TM did not work on migraines, but is a wonderful skill to have. Nobody ever mentioned the concept of migraine triggers in the 1960s.

However, on my own I have discovered many of my triggers: hormonal fluctuations, sulfites, nitrites, tar, paving, gasoline, MSG and dropping barometric pressure. I followed the advice in Heal Your Headache, and dropped caffeine entirely (coffee, tea, chocolate, Excedrin migraine) to lower my migraine activation threshold. This step has really helped.

I still get fooled sometimes. Eating out is a total crap shoot of unknown ingredients. I am often caught short by the unknown contents of sauces, reductions, and special salad dressings.

I have had to endure awkward moments at parties when the bacon wrapped scallop, or proscutto with melon, or the sulfite laden California white wine is passed around. I feel like a heel, but friends DO understand, and they are pleased if you have fewer headaches that they have to hear about!

Keep a journal to know what you have eaten. (Use to keep track of your diet and exercise). Eat only healthy WHOLE foods. Sleep on a regular schedule, weekdays and weekends. Exercise regularly. Your headaches may never disappear completely, but they WILL become less frequent and less severe.

Live a pure life. You will be rewarded with better days ahead!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • jeannie
    7 years ago

    Just figured out barometric pressure as a trigger.

    It is hard to isolate what the single trigger is. Like yesterday I forgot to eat until after 11 am, then decided to finally look at my bills straight on 3months after my divorce. I also had a visit planned with a good friend healing from double mastectomy and it started raining! I was a migraine waiting to happen!

    Iced tea with sweet and low was my drink of choice and I must say since cutting out the aspartame my migraines are 1/2 what they were.

    My Neuro made a great statement last visit. He said its like a thermometer in your head. It heats up with these triggers until the mercury hits the top. That made it click. When I was logging all my food on to lose weight, I was inadvertently keeping a migraine food log. My migraines were less frequent and not as bad when I was eating close to the earth. Less preservatives equals less migraines for me.

    Thanks for letting me share!

  • Nancy Harris Bonk moderator
    7 years ago

    Migraine seems to be an continuing education project for some of us!

  • Bambi Delaney
    8 years ago

    I have tried to track what my triggers are…I know barometric pressure will trgger one..I just figuerd stress was a BIG Factor…whch I’m sure it is but how do you figure out the rest I know MSG is huge No No….but I’m still trying to figure out what is causing this…it’s not getting better it’s getting worse and it’s destroying my life. I just was in the ER via ambulance due to a powerful migraine…if you have any advice please please help me.

  • Tonya Cavender
    8 years ago

    Bambi – I have suffered for 30 years and after a 12 day Miagraine I flew to the Diamond Miagraine Clinic in Chicago ,Ill .Please look up Dr . Diamond .Hes world known for his facility .Also please look up ‘miagraine diet ‘ it changed alot for me giving me my quality of life back .

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