Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors

"What triggers a migraine headache?"

ZocdocAnswersWhat triggers a migraine headache?


I recently began to get visual migraines (the ones where you see lights or an aura). I can't figure out the pattern. What is causing them? How do I make them stop.


Sorry to hear that you are having such bad migraines! Have you seen your doctor about this yet? If not I highly recommend that you do so, as there are medications that can help. In terms of environmental triggers of migraine, these are very variable from person to person. Many people feel like their migraines are triggered by stress, fatigue, and lack of sleep. For others they may be triggered by bright lights, hot weather, or strong smells. Alcohol and caffeine are often associated with migraines, but other people find that many different foods an also trigger them - common food triggers are preservatives, processed foods, cheeses, and so on. In addition to considering environmental triggers, your doctor can discuss the possibility of starting a prophylactic medication with you. A prophylactic medication is a medication that you take every day that will decrease the frequency and severity of your migraine attacks. There are several prophylactic medications to choose from, and they are all for the most part well tolerated with few side effects. Based on your medical history, and whether you have any other major medical conditions or take any other medications, your doctor will help you decide which medication is best for you.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.