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Questions: Triggers? Food diary? Does everyone even have a trigger?
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Taj1999 posted:
 I am thinking ahead, while I get through a siege of these horrible things: Can I prevent my migraines?  My doctor has tried me on almost every preventative medication there is without success, so now I'm thinking about food or other things.

What about triggers?  
I have no idea what causes my migraines.  I've heard it could be almost anything under the sun.  Something you ate, stress, or even the scent of someone's after shave lotion.  

Is food the most common trigger?  If so, how do I do a food diary?Does anyone know how this is done?

Does everyone with migraines HAVE a trigger?  I used to have a pattern of 3 migraines, within 3 to 4 days, then no more for about a month. Then the same thing - 3 migraines within 3 to 4 days, then no more for about another month.  That gave me the impression I didn't have a trigger. Nothing unusual was happening on those 3 or 4 days each month.  They weren't exactly spaced and I'm post menopausal, so not hormones.  But now that pattern has stopped and there is no telling when I'll get one.  Currently, I'm on day 12 of a non-stop migraine, though not all of them are the horrible ones, thank heaven. (I'm at least lucky in that some of mine put me to bed and make me throw up but some are mild enough I can function.) Still - 12 days is about 12 too many and I'd really like to prevent them.  I'll even give up chocolate!

So, any advice about triggers?  Recommendations on how I figure out if I have a trigger?  Information about food elimination methods?

I'd really, really, really like to be rid of these things.  I would sure like to prevent these awful things, and to avoid rebound. What a choice!  "Do I take Imitrex so I don't vomit?  Or if I do take it,  I might faced with a month of rebound migraines?!"  If I can figure out what causes them, wow!  I'd rather that than win the lottery!

Take the Poll

Do you have a migraine trigger? If so, what is it?
  • Food?
  • Sun?
  • Poor sleep?
  • Not drinking enough? (dehydration)
  • Other
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Caprice_WebMD_Staff responded:
I chose 'other' because it's a few things... poor sleep, sometimes dehydration (so I keep myself well-hydrated) and various foods. Stress doesn't help either.

I hope others respond too. Great questions you posed. :-)
 
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Taj1999 replied to Caprice_WebMD_Staff's response:
Caprice, thank you so much for your reply.  Can I ask you how you figured out it is poor sleep sometimes, dehydration sometimes, and various foods?  Also, how did you figure out what foods?
What about keeping a food journal or doing what I've read referred to as an "elimination" chart?  How do I do those?

How do I keep a food journal?

How do I keep a "food elimination chart"?  

Anyone know or have other comments on triggers?

I appreciate anyone's input.

Taj
 
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Michael9150 replied to Taj1999's response:
Hello Taj,

If you are on any medications for headaches NO MATTER what you do as far as reducing triggers nothing will work. Under your doctor's supervision it is important to eliminate all medications. Because it is these medications that are causing the rebound to begin with.

Caprice made a good point of stress, sleep deprivation and dehydration. Before I begin listing dietary triggers I must inform you that all of them from the start must be eliminated.
  • Caffeine
  • Chocolate
  • Monosodium Glutamate
  • Processed meats and fish
  • Cheese and other dairy products
  • Nuts
  • Alcohol and vinegar
  • Certain fruits and juices (citrus fruits, pineapples, dried fruits - raisins)
  • Onions, sauerkraut, pea pods and certain beans (broad Italian lima, fava and navy and lentils)
  • Fresh yeast risen baked goods, bagels, doughnuts, pizza dough
  • Aspartame
Michael
 
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Taj1999 replied to Michael9150's response:
Thank you very much for answering, Michael. Can I ask you what you use for a rule of thumb on how long you take pain meds for migraines?  Mine bunch up and I never know if I'm just in a short group of them, or if it's morphing into a rebound migraine.  Now that there is no pattern, so I never know if several in a row is going to be only a few or if they will turn into rebound headaches.  Do you see my dilemma?  When do you stop taking medication?  Do you limit yourself to two Imitrex a month?  Three?  My doctor also encourages me to take something for pain, like ibuprofen.  Do you take pain medication with Imitrex?

As of 2 days ago, I stopped all medications for headaches, even though my neurologist encouraged me to take them, saying that it was okay. (!)  And I think it has stopped! I had only a mild non-migraine headache yesterday and NONE at all today!  I hope I'm done with them for a while, at least.

About the triggers:  the list you have offered - how do I go about this?  Just go down the list, removing  one of the foods from my diet and see what happens?  Then if I still get migraines, add it back and eliminate the next one down?

Dehydration is one I am working on right now.  I have no thirst these days and am not drinking NEARLY enough,  and I am struggling with sleep.  I also have some significant stresses in my life.  Maybe some deep relaxation is a good idea.  And exercise - I need to add that back.  I had a walking friend who doesn't walk with me now but a new friend is wanting to do that, so good.  Wow.  Kind of a lot to tackle.  At least there are lots of things I can do to try to decrease these awful headaches.

If you are out there and read this, or if someone else can answer these questions, it would be great.  Thank you again, Michael and you, too, Caprice.

Taj 
(Feels like an odd name but I couldn't think of anything, after normal names and versions of normal names weren't working.  I've been to see the Taj Mahal, so I just chose it!)
 
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Caprice_WebMD_Staff replied to Taj1999's response:
Hi Taj,

It doesn't have to be complicated. You can do it in a simple notebook or on your computer, listing all the items you eat each day. And noting off to the side if and when you get a migraine and how bad, and perhaps also listing how well you slept each night.

Do this every day for a couple of weeks and you may see a pattern.

If and when you do see a pattern (for example, if every time you have a diet soda), try eliminating one item per week from your diet to see if that makes a difference. Continue to journal everything you eat, your sleep, and if/when you get migraines.

Does that help?

(This is the same kind of thing that can be done for allergies or digestive symptoms. It can be very effective.)
 
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Caprice_WebMD_Staff replied to Caprice_WebMD_Staff's response:
P.S. I'm not a health professional in any way. I just moderate some of WebMD's exchanges and have been on this migraine journey in my personal life.
 
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Taj1999 replied to Caprice_WebMD_Staff's response:
Thank you!  So easy, why didn't I think of it!  I'll begin logging food and sleep today.  I read someone's post in which they said corn was the trigger for them and while it's not easy keeping corn out (corn syrup in prepared foods, etc.), at least she knows how to prevent  her migraines.  Boy would I love that!  I'd give up chocolate if I had to!
 
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Hanafubuki replied to Michael9150's response:
The maximum for not getting rebounds is taking triptans and OTCs not more than 2 times a week, not a month. Please read about rebounds here , and get your facts straight before giving out advice. Doctors often tell patients to trade off with triptans and OTCs weekly so they can avoid rebound headaches and get pain relief. You do not have to live in pain and limit your med use to once a month - that is insane when people like me suffer from headaches (migraines and clusters included) chronically, sometimes multiple times a week. We could not function in society if we did not have medications we could take more than once or twice a month. Talk with your neurologist or a pain specialist and get the real facts please.
 
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Michael9150 replied to Hanafubuki's response:
I understand your frustrations, but the reason why you are getting these migraines that growing in frequency and intensity is because of the medications you are taking. Please take a moment to understand this. The migraine control center which is located in the hypothalamus, is activated when you pass your "threshold level" through an accumulation of triggers (sleep, stress, water, medications, etc) When the migraine control center is activated, neuropeptides are released which lead to a swelling of the blood vessels in your head that are attached to your migraine control center. This swelling what you experience as pain. How quick fix medications work is by constricting the blood vessels. HOWEVER, your next headache comes back with a vengeance and swelling is worse than before. The best thing for you to do is to cut out these medications that cause rebound altogether - cold turkey. OR ELSE nothing you do will help, even preventative medicine. If you are wondering where I get my information, I'm a holistic health practitioner so I'm a continuous student of health & disease.
 
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Hanafubuki replied to Michael9150's response:
I grew up with these; I have also gone without medication for extended periods of time, and I know what my headaches are like - they are chronic, and come daily. I use a holistic approach in my personal health care and when others ask for advice I recommend the same to them - but holistic means all encompassing; i.e. both medications and life changes/practices. You should not go towards one and talk about the other as if it is "evil" because without those medications I and billions of others could never have made it this far in life. Please do your research on rebound headaches and medications used to treat them - work with neurologists and pain specialists, not against them. You are doing more harm than good if you are telling people not to take medications that can help them.
I will give you references where you can learn about guide lines for proper medication use.

http://www.webmd.com/migraines-headaches/guide/rebound-headaches

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/rebound-headaches/DS00613/DSECTION=prevention
 
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whitebear4 responded:
Imitrex doesn't give you as many rebounds as OTCs and narcotic pain meds, but may give you some if taken too often.
 
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whitebear4 replied to Michael9150's response:
Michael150: I haven't taken any medications at all for years because nothing works for me, and I sure would like to find one that will give me a "quick fix".

Preventatives don't cause rebound headaches, only abortives. Many people would not even be able to start their day without preventatives.And certainly initrex does not make people's migraines worse, and for them, it is a Godsend.

The rules on this forum are that we are not supposed to be endorsing any products or books,magazines. And I should add that just because the person who wrote the book wrote it, does not make him/her an expert. Anyone can publish a book thru vanity press.
 
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whitebear4 replied to whitebear4's response:
Also you shouldn't stop cold turkey with some meds, such as Elavil or other anti-depressants, you could get a seizure.
 
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An_205317 replied to Hanafubuki's response:
All distress, disease, disfunction stem from first the spiritual part of us, then mental and finally physical. We are much more than merely mind, body, and spirit with no connection. All these should work in harmony to keep us healthy. However, most of us aren't balanced because we have taken on stress and have lost our inner balance, which is appreciating all aspects of life and loving self, others, and the rest of creation. Most of our disease can be eliminated by finding inner harmony and balance, appreciating every aspect of life. When you work in harmony with the electromagnetic web of the earth, your entire beingness begins healing itself.

Nature appears to work in harmony. For those of us in the northern hemisphere, start going outside into nature and 'drink' in nature. Just try to let go of the stress inside and lighten up!

This is 'alternative medicine', but it may help some people who are looking for another healing method other than medications. I suppose its more holistic in perspective.


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