In addition to anatomical triggers, there are countless everyday exposures that can cause migraines and migraine symptoms. It sometimes makes sense to experiment with these environmental triggers, including:

10 Everyday Things That Could Be Triggering Your Migraines


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    1. Aspartame: Aspartame is a low-calorie sweetener and sugar substitute commonly found in diet soda, breakfast cereals and many other everyday foods and beverages.
    2. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG): MSG is a flavor enhancer often used in canned vegetables, Chinese food, processed meat, and soups.
    3. Sulfites: Sulfites are preservatives found in dried fruits, wine and many processed foods.
    4. Caffeine: The caffeine in coffee, tea and other beverages has been shown to both trigger and help prevent migraines, depending on the person.
    5. Alcohol: Studies indicate there is a strong correlation between alcohol consumption and migraine symptoms.
    6. Tannins: Tannins are plant compounds that give tea, red-skinned apples, pears and other foods an astringent taste.
    7. Nitrites: Nitrites are preservatives frequently found in sausage, beef jerky, hot dogs, deli meats and other meats.
    8. Aged Cheeses: Aged cheeses often contain tyramine, a naturally occurring substance that has been linked to migraines.
    9. Leftovers: Tyramine – an amino acid that is contained in many foods – increases over time, especially if food is left unrefrigerated for many hours. Therefore, it is paramount to store all leftovers in airtight containers and place these containers in a refrigerator right away.
    10. Dehydration: Failure to drink sufficient amounts of fluids daily may cause dehydration.


With proper medical guidance – and by paying attention to the environmental exposures and migraine occurrence – an individual can determine if he or she has any migraine triggers.

Elimination of environmental triggers typically does not totally alleviate migraines.  Most patients will still require medical treatment, starting with medication.

Doctors prescribe three categories of migraine medications. These are:

  1. Preventative: Used regularly to reduce the frequency, duration and/or severity of migraine attacks.
  2. Abortive: Taken as the migraine is beginning, to cut the migraine short or prevent the migraine from escalating.
  3. Rescue: Used during an active migraine attack to reduce migraine symptoms.

In some instances, medications fail to help patients alleviate migraine pain or cause intolerable side effects. If a patient receives a chronic migraine diagnosis from a neurologist and discovers medications are ineffective or cause unwanted side effects, he or she should schedule a consultation with The Migraine Institute. At The Migraine Institute, Dr. Jonathan Cabin will perform a full evaluation to determine an individual’s migraine triggers and help him or her find a safe, effective alternative to migraine medications.

Dr. Cabin is a board-certified head and neck surgeon with dual-subspecialty training in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery. Dr. Cabin’s unique expertise enables him to conduct an in-depth patient examination, identify the root causes of an individual’s migraine symptoms and help him or her achieve long-lasting migraine pain relief.

Prior to a consultation, Dr. Cabin requests a patient’s medical history as well as a migraine log. Dr. Cabin then performs a physical examination, and may also conduct various tests to determine a patient’s migraine trigger sites. These tests include:

  • Botox injection(s)
  • Doppler ultrasound
  • Nerve block injection(s)
  • CT scan
  • Nasal spray
  • Evaluation by other migraine specialists

Depending on a patient’s migraine triggers, Dr. Cabin may recommend Botox and/or minimally invasive surgery to address migraine symptoms. Botox involves the use of FDA-approved injectable treatments in the head and neck to relieve migraine pain. Comparatively, migraine surgery is used to permanently remove faulty nerve signals to the brain that cause migraines.

To find out more about The Migraine Institute’s migraine treatment options, please contact us today at 310.461.0303 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Cabin.

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