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How I Deal With Migraine Triggers

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I’d like to focus on some #RealTalk today. The change in weather as of late has brought about some terrible migraines, and I mean bad. What exactly can be done about this? How can those of us who struggle with migraines become better prepared and increase our chance of avoiding the pain?

Being a traumatic brain injury survivor is challenging enough, but the biggest problematic factor that goes along with this injury are the migraines. Currently, I’m on a narcotic to help with dulling the kind of intense pain these migraines cause. My migraines refuse to last for a couple of hours and then simply disappear. My last round of migraines stuck around for over a month without stopping. The only time I didn’t feel the pain was when I finally fell asleep in the evening.

Now, personally, I have only a few triggers that immediately bring on a migraine. These include: stormy weather, light – specifically fluorescent lights, loud constant sounds (such as screaming kids) and stress/anxiety. These are my big ones. So, what actions do I take to dampen the pain? They include:

  • Ice packs (direct contact)
  • Narcotics
  • Completely dark environments (candles are acceptable)
  • Absolutely no noise
  • Zero pressure on my head (no headphones, earplugs, glasses)
  • Caffeine
  • Rubbing my head (my boyfriend does this)

These are what I’ve learned, going on two years now, that help me the most, and the fastest. Getting off topic just for a quick second, I’m a huge fan of Pinterest. I cook, bake, advertise my blogs and conduct research using it. This morning, I found an image on the app that was very educational. I often love to compare my experiences to that of others to see how they handle things, and what has worked for them that might also work for me. The image below matched some of my own triggers.

pinterest migraine triggers

Lighting, physical activity (or, for me, too much activity) and weather are those that matched myself. I enjoyed reading through this because it listed things I never remembered to think about. For example: dehydration. That’s a big one. If you don’t drink enough, that’s a sure way to get your brain to complain about it. I drink a ton of tea. I love tea, but I also love bottled water. Therefore, dehydration isn’t a problem I’ve experienced frequently, but it has happened, and yes, I did get a migraine.

I have to also speak on something that… well, quite frankly, bothers me to no end. If someone asks me what’s wrong with me (apparently I wear my emotions on my sleeve) and I explain to them that I have a migraine, they respond: “Oh I get those too. They stink.” What’s infuriating is that their “migraine” is a more like a headache compared to a TBI migraine. That might sound terrible to say, but it’s the fact that they are trying to compare a mountain to a molehill (respectfully speaking). It’s very unfortunate that they have a headache, but my frustration comes from them thinking they understand what I put up with almost on a daily basis.


Let me get back on track with my statement regarding triggers. I answered a few questions I’ve had others ask me.

1. What can be done about this? Well, for starters, it would be incredibly helpful if others would do their research on the topic of migraines, specifically TBI migraines, and educate themselves on the differences between a migraine and a headache. The more you know, the more you will be able to help the person struggling with them.

2. How can those of us who struggle with migraines become better prepared and increase our chance of avoiding the pain? Again, research is very important. Find out other influences that may bring on a migraine that you may not know about. For the factors you do already know of, conduct behavior or take the necessary steps you know work best for yourself. Some things might work for others that won’t work for you. Don’t worry. Listen to what your body tells you and then follow through.

3. How long do your migraines last? As stated, mine can last up to a month or longer. It just depends on how many triggers I have and how quickly I can catch them before they turn into a full-blown migraine.

4. Is there anything someone can do that causes you to get a migraine? Yes. I listed stress/anxiety as a trigger that brings on some big ones. Therefore, if I’m fighting with another person, or if they are stressing me out, then absolutely. This will bring about a migraine if I do not remove myself from said situation. There have been many times when I’ve had to avoid a person because they keep stressing me out or upsetting me. It’s not because I’m trying to be immature – no, not at all. I’m doing my best to remove myself from a situation that will complicate my health.

5. What do you expect me to do? The only answer I have when a person asks me this question is to become informed, and this means more than just doing research. Be willing to understand what I can do, and what my body does not allow me to do. Don’t jump to conclusions about anything. Don’t run around asking everyone else questions about me without coming to me first for the answers. Show some respect. Acknowledge what all I have achieved and not just what I have been unable to do since becoming ill. Basically, don’t be negative around me. Keep that to yourself.

6. Why don’t you come visit often? Well, for starters: I’m on some pretty strong medication, and of that medication, there’s a narcotic. I can’t drive while under the influence of this narcotic. I’d be a danger to myself and to others if I were to get behind the wheel of a 3,055 pound vehicle. The TBI causes dizziness and loss of balance… not a good combination to have if I decided to travel on a bad day. Stormy weather is not just a trigger, but a safety hazard for me due to TBI dizziness and chronic migraines. My short-term memory sucks monkeys. I may have simply forgot to come visit unintentionally. Most people just think I’m a jerk who doesn’t want to leave her house and socialize. Dear me, they couldn’t be more wrong. Sometimes, I just have to put on the “I’m fine” face and tough it out.

pretending youre ok

7. So… how long will you be sick? I love this one. It’s such a ridiculous question. I mean, that’s like asking how many fish there are in every ocean combined. Who the heck knows? God knows, because He created them, but as for us humans… I’ll take: “that’s a big no” for 500, Mr. Trebek. If someone asks you this, and you don’t want to be rude, my advice would be just to walk away or change the topic.

In conclusion, when it comes to migraine triggers, each of us have our individual ones we have to avoid or deal with. The best plan of action would be to remove yourself from them if at all possible, and if you are unable to, then be sure to act fast when it comes to treating your migraine. The last thing you want to do is wait it out. Migraines don’t often come and go. They like to break the door down and refuse to leave without so much as paying rent.

I’m curious. Tell me what some of your triggers are and how you deal with each of them. Have any of you discovered anything new regarding triggers and how to handle them? Share your thoughts with me!

This post has appeared on Strengthening the Muscle of Faith and Amanda’s blog.

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Thinkstock photo via chombosan.

Originally published: October 30, 2017
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