5 Surprising Migraine Triggers

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but wine and cheese may be migraine triggers for some.

For people who suffer from migraines, figuring out what may trigger a headache may be an important step to managing and preventing pain. But while many migraine triggers, such as stress, are well known, here are a few that may come as a surprise to you.

Sleeping In – While getting more rest would seem like a good thing, changes in sleep patterns could provoke a migraine. Sleeping in may cause what’s known to many as the “weekend headache.” Establishing a routine sleeping pattern may help prevent and manage migraines. 1

Sex – Any kind of intense physical exercise may be a potential migraine trigger, and unfortunately, sex is no exception. 2 In fact, it’s common enough that the phenomenon has even been given a catchy nickname: Sex headaches.  3

Cheese and Wine – There’s nothing like a hunk of cheese and a glass of wine – unless, of course, you suffer from migraines. Both aged cheese and red wine contain a compound called tyramine, which may be a migraine trigger for some people. 4 Soy products, fava beans, hard sausages and smoked fish also contain tyramine. (Check out “4 Simple Food Swaps” for easy changes that may help you reduce head pain without giving up your favorite foods).

Perfume – A rose by any other name does not smell so sweet when it triggers a migraine. But that’s the case for some people who have adverse reactions to certain sounds, sights and smells — especially strong perfume and other strong odors, which can be difficult to avoid in social situations.  5

Weather and Barometric Pressure Changes – Bright sunlight, high humidity, hot temperatures and barometric pressure changes may be potential migraine triggers in some people. 6 Those susceptible to weather-related migraines should determine their specific migraine triggers – and keep an eye on the sky.  7

Finally, keep in mind that triggers can vary from person to person and don’t always lead to a migraine. In addition, some people may not have any migraine triggers at all. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about what sets off your headaches to help find the right treatment for you.



Manage your migraines a little easier with our 5-week Migraine Survival Guide.