Consider this Migraine 101.

  •  Processed lunch meats and Chinese take-out contain nitrates, which are known dietary migraine triggers for some.
  • Sleeping in just on the weekends may trigger a “weekend headache” in some.
  • It might be easy to get overwhelmed and overstressed, and stress can trigger migraines.

It’s the first week on campus — you’re meeting new people, there are no parents to enforce a curfew, you can eat whatever you want from the dorm buffet. It can be a heady time. Only problem? Some habits of the New Kid on Campus could increase the chance of developing a migraine for some.

If you think you might suffer from migraines, be sure to visit your doctor to get properly diagnosed. But in the meantime, here’s a look at five on-campus habits it might be a good idea to avoid as you head to campus this fall.

Eating Junk Food. One of the first choices some freshmen may make when faced with a dining hall is to chow down on anything greasy, salty or sugary. (And those late nights studying at the library? Forget it.) We get the appeal of the unlimited, 24-hour dorm cafeteria. But junk food like processed lunch meats and Chinese take-out contain nitrates, which are known triggers for some. While no student should have to go totally without treats, reaching for healthier alternatives, such as almonds or a hard-boiled egg might actually help avoid migraines for some instead.

Cramming. Pulling an all-nighter to cram for that big biology exam is practically a right of passage for co-eds. But for some migraine sufferers, changes in sleep patterns can be a migraine trigger. Thinking you’ll catch up on sleep over the weekend? Sleeping in just on the weekends may trigger a “weekend headache” in some (sorry to break it to you!) Managing your study time and maintaining a consistent sleep schedule can help prevent migraines.

Overworking. Students are faced with busy course loads and extracurricular schedules. Staying occupied and active is important, but pushing yourself too hard at the gym or during an intramural soccer game, or getting dehydrated while working a show backstage could trigger a migraine. It’s not a bad idea to have a water bottle on you — and try not to overdo it.

Socializing. It’s part of the college experience, but crowded rooms packed with people who may be emitting strong perfume or cigarette smoke odors, as well as flashing strobe lights, could trigger migraines for some (or they can simply make a migraine worse).

Stressing Out. With academics, extracurriculars and social commitments all very much in the picture, it might be easy to get overwhelmed and overstressed, and stress can trigger migraines. Take some time to build relaxation into your sked for a little relaxation – maybe try a yoga class or do a deep breathing exercise or meditation to help relieve stress throughout your daily activities.

Learning what your own personal migraine triggers are and how to best avoid them can make hanging out with friends a lot more fun. Consider starting a migraine diary.

Your first year of college can be an exciting and empowering time – not a time to be in pain. Good luck, students!

Excedrin Migraine is indicated for those 18 and over. If you are under 18 years of age, consult a doctor before using this product. See more information about Excedrin Migraine



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