Document Type


Publication Date



This article has been peer reviewed. It is the authors' final version prior to publication in Current Pain and Headache Reports, Volume 22, Issue 12, December 2018, Article number 81.

The final publication is available at Springer via


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: A wide variety of triggers prompt attacks in episodic migraine. Although experimental triggers such as glyceryl trinitrate reliably produce migraine, natural triggers are much less predictable and vary in importance between individuals. This review describes the most common triggers in episodic migraine and provides strategies for managing them in clinical practice.

RECENT FINDINGS: Multiple migraine attack triggers have been established based on patient surveys, diary studies, and clinical trials. Stress, menstrual cycle changes, weather changes, sleep disturbances, alcohol, and other foods are among the most common factors mentioned. Clinical studies have verified that fasting, premenstrual periods in women, "letdown" after stress, and most likely low barometric pressures are migraine triggers. Premonitory symptoms such as neck pain, fatigue, and sensitivity to lights, sounds, or odors may mimic triggers. Multiple studies clearly demonstrate triggers in episodic migraine, often related to change in homeostasis or environment. Many common migraine triggers are not easily modifiable, and avoiding triggers may not be realistic. Healthy lifestyle choices such as exercise, adequate sleep, stress management, and eating regularly may prevent triggers and transformation to chronic migraine over time.

PubMed ID




Included in

Neurology Commons