Tracking migraine triggers…


“The study involved 27 people with migraine with aura who reported that bright or flickering light, vigorous exercise, or both, previously triggered an attack. The participants were then exposed to the triggers to see if they caused a headache episode.
Participants either went for an intense run or used an exercise bike for one hour, reaching at least 80 percent of their maximum heart rate. Participants also were exposed to bright, flashing or flickering lights for 30 to 40 minutes. After each session, the participants were monitored for about three hours and asked to report any migraine or migraine with aura symptoms.
The study found that 11 percent of participants reported a migraine with aura after being exposed to light or exercise. Another 11 percent of participants experienced migraines without aura. No participants developed migraine with aura after light exposure alone.

Peter Goadsby, MD, PhD, with the University of California, San Francisco, and a member of the American Academy of Neurology, noted in an accompanying editorial that the study brings up several questions about migraine triggers. “Perhaps rather than triggers, these behaviors are a brain-driven response to the early phases of the migraine itself. Maybe people are driven to exercise as an early symptom and the association with light is simply the sensitivity to light that occurs with the attack itself?”” Migraine Triggers May Not Be As Strong As You Think

There is a pretty good point to this study and that is we use that term ‘trigger’ pretty loosely sometimes. Like light sensitivity… we are very sensitive to light when we have a migraine and there was a study that suggested we are even sensitive to light because we have migraines, so more photophobic than most. But that is not a trigger per sa. It would be the increased light sensitivity prior to the migraine pain we would notice and that is still part of the migraine attack… the Prodrome stage of the migraine. I could not honestly say whether light itself is a migraine trigger because I am very photophobic all that time and have chronic migraines… so hard to say on that one. Exercise I don’t think triggers a migraine, but if I’m getting one… I will get it way faster because as we all know exercise is insanely painful during a migraine. I don’t think any of us are driven to exercise… we are just told repeatedly to because it will make us ‘feel better’. But exercise I think can definitely be a trigger. Anyway the article suggests that you track for three months… if something is not a trigger for you, then do not worry about it. Which is the advice I would follow. Not every common trigger is going to be a trigger for us all.


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