7 Surprising Causes of Migraine

Doctor William C Lloyd Healthgrades Medical Reviewer
Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Evelyn Creekmore on July 11, 2021

Identifying what triggers a migraine is an important step in preventing future attacks. Yet, what triggers a migraine differs from person to person. Here are some surprising triggers you may have overlooked.

  • storm-clouds
    Weather can be a big trigger for migraine sufferers. Drops in barometric pressure, high temperatures, and high humidity are common culprits. Many patients will realize a pattern, and while you cannot change the weather, at least you can plan accordingly.
  • African American woman in pain on couch with hands on head and abdomen
    The Weekend
    Some migraine suffers report frequent or regular headaches on the weekend and over holidays. This could be because during the week, you are under a lot of stress. On the weekends or over a holiday when you release this stress, your body's response may be to get a headache. This is what's known as a "letdown headache." Some experts also theorize that weekend headaches could be due to changes in diet or sleeping patterns.
  • woman-sleeping-in-bed-snoring
    Many headache sufferers get headaches on vacation or on their days off work. Oversleeping can give you headaches. Chronic migraine sufferers need to stick to a regular sleep schedule, even on the weekends.
  • laptop-coffee-glasses
    Caffeine Withdrawal
    According to studies for people who are prone to getting headaches, it can take as little as two and a half cups of coffee a day to worsen headaches. The headache occurs several hours after caffeine consumption and is due to caffeine withdrawal. Consuming caffeine at a later hour than you normally do is also a culprit.
  • young Caucasian female shopping for vitamins at a pharmacy or drugstore
    Magnesium Deficiency
    Both emotional and physical stress can cause the depletion of magnesium. The loss of magnesium in turn can cause headaches. Magnesium supplementation is available in oral and injectable form. Injections of magnesium are given to people who do not tolerate oral magnesium or who have trouble absorbing the magnesium. Talk to your doctor about testing your magnesium level and whether supplementation is right for you.
  • Loaf of bread
    Gluten Sensitivity
    Some people are sensitive to gluten. You can have gluten sensitivity without actually having celiac disease, which is a severe form of gluten intolerance. The simple way to see if you have gluten sensitivity is stop eating all gluten for two weeks. If you feel better, then that's your answer. For the two-week gluten-free test to work, you have to avoid all gluten, because even a very small about of gluten can trigger a headache.
  • uncooked-spaghetti
    Reactive Hypoglycemia
    Excessive amounts of simple carbohydrates, such as white sugar and pasta, can cause migraine headaches. When you eat simple carbs, your blood sugar rises. Your body then produces extra insulin to break down the sugar, which in turn causes your blood sugar levels to drop dramatically. That spike and plummet of blood sugar can lead to headaches. Skipping meals and fasting are also known migraine triggers related to blood sugar fluctuations.
7 Surprising Causes of Migraine

About The Author

Evelyn Creekmore has more than 15 years of experience writing online educational health content, including nearly 10 years full-time at WebMD, where she was the director of brand content. She holds an MPH in Applied Public Health Informatics from Emory University Rollins School of Public Health and an MA from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
  1. FYI Living. New York Headache Center. http://www.nyheadache.com/
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Last Review Date: 2021 Jul 11
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