If you suffer from migraine headaches, you already know that you’ll try practically anything to stop them. Unfortunately, the current medical understanding of migraines is so incomplete that for many people, the best chance at preventing migraines is simply to do your best to note what triggers them, and then avoid those triggers.

Common migraine triggers include stress, sleep deprivation, bright lights, and strong smells — unfortunately, things that are often out of our control. But what if your migraine trigger was within your control?

Unhealthy foods

Is Food Triggering Your Migraines?

Statistics show that about 20% of migraine sufferers have food-related triggers. So far, experts can only speculate on the reasons some of these foods might cause a migraine to start brewing, but here are some possibilities:

Candy and junk food — Just over 20% of those with migraines report chocolate as a trigger, but some researchers suspect that the chocolate may be the result of a migraine rather than the cause. This is because food cravings are a common precursor to migraine attacks.

Caffeine — Caffeine can be a complicated player in the migraine game, because while some report it as a trigger, others report it as a treatment. Yet more people find that it’s coming down from the caffeine high that triggers migraines. Regardless, it’s clearly something to keep an eye on in your own diet if you suffer from migraines.

Foods with tyramine — Tyramine is a naturally-occurring substance found particularly in foods that are aged or fermented. Aged cheeses, smoked or cured meats, and some beer may trigger migraines in some people for this reason.

Alcohol — While it may not be the alcohol itself that triggers migraines, it comes hand-in-hand with other migraine triggers, such as dehydration or sulfites (found in red wine).

MSG — Monosodium glutamate, more commonly known as MSG, is a common migraine trigger. While this sodium salt occurs naturally in foods like tomatoes and cheese, it is also added to other foods as a flavor enhancer.

If you think food triggers might be involved in your migraine attacks, the next step is to keep a food diary so you can identify what foods correlate with your headaches.

What If It’s Not Food?

Unfortunately, for so many migraine sufferers, any attempt to pin down triggers will result in nothing but confusion and frustration. If your headaches are a result of TMJ, no food diary, no matter how thorough, will be able to identify the source.

Migraines can be triggered by the trigeminal nerve, which carries stimuli to and from the muscles of your jaw. Tension and pain in these muscles could overstimulate the trigeminal nerve, setting off migraines. Plus, the tension created by a misaligned bite can trigger painful tension headaches that might be mistaken for migraines. Fortunately, if TMJ is the cause of your headaches, TMJ treatment may be able to reduce or even prevent those headaches.

TMJ can be complicated to understand, and this page contains some technical information that may be easier to understand in person. Dr. Adam Hahn is an expert at explaining it in plain, straightforward language. To talk to them about TMJ, please call (803) 781-9090 or contact Smile Columbia Dentistry in Columbia, SC today for an appointment.