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Dr Johal, a Medical Advisor at Vitality, said migraines tend to run in families, which suggests there is a genetic link.

“In people who are genetically predisposed to migraines, an individual episode may be brought on by any of a number of triggers,” said Dr Johal.

There can be “common” dietary triggers, such as:

  • Dehydration
  • Skipping meals
  • Drinking caffeine
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Eating cheese
  • Eating gluten
  • Eating chocolate
  • Eating citrus.

“The specific triggers vary by person and change over time,” added Dr Johal.

There can be environmental triggers to consider, such as:

  • Bright lights
  • Strong odours
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Overly warm conditions
  • Sudden temperature conditions.

“It is important to know what your triggers are, and it can be helpful to keep a migraine diary to help you do this,” said Dr Johal.

“Once you recognise your triggers, you need to avoid them as much as possible.”

There are some triggers, however, that may be impossible to avoid completely, such as certain emotional states.

According to Dr Johal, feeling stressed or anxious could trigger a migraine, as could depression.

In such cases, one of the best ways to minimise the regularity of migraines is to lead a healthy lifestyle.

Dr Johal elaborated: “Maintain a healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and frequent moderate exercise.

“Since migraines are often triggered by changes to routine, it can be useful to stick to a routine which includes regular mealtimes and sufficient sleep.”

Dr Johal added: “If you anticipate changes to this routine – try to ease your body into it gently, to minimise the disruption and decrease the risk of a migraine.”

People who still suffer from migraines, despite avoiding triggers as much as possible and leading a healthy lifestyle, should seek the support of their GP.

“Your doctor will advise on the best treatments for you when symptoms take hold,” said Dr Johal.

“This will depend on the frequency and severity of your headaches and include painkillers, anti-nausea medication and specialist drugs called triptans.”

These tips were shared by Dr Kiran Johal, Medical Advisor at Vitality, ahead of Migraine Awareness Week, September 24-30.

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