Fast Five Quiz: Migraine Headache

Helmi L. Lutsep, MD


January 26, 2022

Various precipitants of migraine events have been identified:

  • Hormonal changes, such as those accompanying menstruation (common), pregnancy, and ovulation

  • Stress

  • Excessive or insufficient sleep

  • Medications (eg, vasodilators, oral contraceptives)

  • Smoking

  • Exposure to bright or fluorescent lighting

  • Strong odors (eg, perfumes, colognes, petroleum distillates)

  • Head trauma

  • Weather changes

  • Motion sickness

  • Cold stimulus (eg, ice cream headaches)

  • Lack of exercise

  • Fasting or skipping meals

  • Red wine

Information on dietary triggers is often conflicting. Foods and food additives that have been suggested as potential precipitants of migraine include:

  • Caffeine

  • Artificial sweeteners (eg, aspartame, saccharin)

  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)

  • Citrus fruits

  • Foods containing tyramine (eg, aged cheese)

  • Meats with nitrites

Magnesium deficiency has been associated with migraine development. Nuts and seeds such as Brazil nuts, chia seeds, cashews, almonds, walnuts, and hazelnuts are known to contain magnesium.

Learn more about migraine precipitants.


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