Chances are high that if you suffer from frequent migraines , you’ve probably considered tracking your triggers. That’s because the sudden onset of a migraine could be the difference between finishing that project at work or sitting in a dark room with a cool towel over you face. Migraines can last between one hour and three days, and can be incredibly difficult to prevent. That’s why many have tried to take control of their headaches by tracking triggers in a journal or one of many available apps. Though research is sparse, many find their symptoms heightened after consuming caffeine— although some find it helps stop their migraines. Changes in air pressure, foods containing MSG or histamine, have also been known to cause migraines, as well as simply not drinking enough water.

If you’re staying up to date with your trigger-tracking, a new study might have you adding another substance to your list, alcohol.

man drinking alcohol while working on his computer

What Does the Research Say?

In a recent study published by the European Journal of Neurology, researchers at the Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands examined more than 2,000 adults who experienced migraines. More than a third of participants (35.6%) reported alcohol was a migraine trigger. Of those that did develop migraines after alcohol consumption, researchers found that almost a third of patients got a migraine less than three hours after drinking alcohol, and 90 percent of them after 10 hours. Although the findings found significant evidence, the relationship between alcohol and migraines still remains a mystery.

Other Migraine Triggers

Of the alcoholic drinks most likely to cause migraines, red wine was ranked highest, but other factors beside alcohol consumption have been found to trigger migraines, including temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ. TMJ is an umbrella term used to describe a collection of symptoms that seem to be caused by a malfunctioning temporomandibular joint, which is responsible for connection the jaw to the skull, and allowing for several ranges of movement in the mandible. When this joint has sustained damage, either by trauma or various other factors, it can cause symptoms far-reaching through the body. While most commonly patients experience jaw pain, lockjaw, or clicking and popping noises while eating, TMJ can also cause tingling in the fingers, vertigo, and frequent headaches.

Much like alcohol, however, the link between TMJ and migraines is not well defined. Some believe that the trigeminal nerve may play a part, as TMJ can overstimulate this nerve, sending a flurry of signals to the brain, but these hasn’t been verified by enough research.

How Can I Prevent Migraines?

In combination with trigger-tracking, treating TMJ may help in preventing the frequency of your migraines. If you’ve been experiencing TMJ symptoms accompanied with your migraines, your local dentist may be able to help. Treatment options such as TENS and oral-splint devices can help your jaw begin to heal, reducing the severity of your TMJ symptoms. Neuromuscular dentist Dr. Adam Hahn in Columbia, SC has experience helping people with all stages and types of TMJ. They can help you, too. Please call (803) 781-9090 or contact Smile Columbia Dentistry today to schedule an appointment.