Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Chronic Migraines

Dec 13, 2022
misc image
Could that pastrami sandwich you had for lunch or skipping sleep last night for a screen-time marathon cause a migraine? Unfortunately, yes. Our team explains how lifestyle habits contribute to the number of migraines you experience.

Diagnosing, treating, and preventing chronic migraines from interfering with your life is a primary focus of our team at Valley Neurology in Spokane Valley, Washington. 

Neurologist Dr. Wade Steeves, known as the Headache Guy in our Washington community, provides the most advanced therapies available for migraine treatment and prevention.

However, you may be surprised to learn that your lifestyle choices and daily habits often play a vital role in successful migraine management.

What does lifestyle have to do with chronic migraines?

Chronic migraine disorder is a complex neurological condition, the cause of which medical researchers struggle to identify.

Potential migraine contributors include genetics, changes in how your brainstem interacts with neural pathways in the brain, and influence from various natural brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) such as serotonin and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP).

Science remains motivated to learn more about the cause of chronic migraine disorder. Most medical professionals agree, however, that lifestyle habits have a significant influence when it comes to migraine intensity and frequency. These habits are commonly called migraine triggers.

Which lifestyle habits trigger migraines?

Migraine triggers vary, but the more common ones include:

  • Poor sleep habits
  • Excess caffeine or alcohol use
  • Caffeine withdrawal
  • Skipped meals
  • Dehydration
  • Aged cheese
  • Processed foods like pastrami and other deli meats
  • Overly salty foods such as chips or canned soups
  • Emotional stress
  • Overexertion
  • Odors from air fresheners and perfumes

Frequent use of over-the-counter pain medication for headache relief can also trigger a migraine headache.

You can’t avoid all migraine triggers. For instance, changing weather patterns or a natural drop in estrogen just before your menstrual period can trigger a migraine. However, identifying and avoiding your triggers whenever possible is critical to chronic migraine management.

Dr. Steeves creates a customized migraine treatment plan that may include medications to prevent migraines or manage breakthrough headaches.

How do you identify migraine triggers?

Tracking your headaches and recording details in a migraine journal can distinguish patterns that may help identify your triggers. For your convenience, migraine journals are available via numerous phone apps.

Record pertinent facts in your journal, such as:

  • Date and time of day the migraine began
  • How long the symptoms lasted
  • Current weather
  • Quality and amount of sleep the night before
  • Your stress level before the headache
  • Water intake
  • Foods you ate before the migraine started

It also helps to detail your symptoms, rate your pain level on a scale from 1 to 10, and record any pain medication you took. Then, Dr. Steeves can review the journal and work with you to identify possible triggers.

Don’t let chronic migraine disorder control your life. Instead, schedule a visit with Dr. Steeves at Valley Neurology today for outstanding neurological care that’s always patient-focused. Call the office or request an appointment online.