How can I avoid headache triggers?

The first step in avoiding triggers is to identify them. You can't avoid all your triggers all the time. But awareness helps you better manage the situations in which you find yourself. For instance, if you know what triggers a headache, you can take steps to limit your exposure. And when you can't avoid triggers, you can at least prepare yourself for the possibility of a headache. Having this sense of control can lessen the headache's effect on you. For more information about what triggers headaches, see What triggers a headache?

If you are keeping a headache diary, it helps to look at what's going on in your life 1 to 2 days before a headache starts. When you do, you may notice patterns that identify specific headache triggers and ways you can avoid them. For instance, if you notice you always get a headache right after you come home from work, you could arrange for some quiet time alone before joining your family.

Use the following techniques to help you manage your triggers:

  • Make a list of all your known triggers. Next to each one, write a suggestion for how you can avoid it.
  • Write down what you need to do to prepare for a headache after an unplanned exposure to one of your triggers. Ask your doctor for suggestions.
  • Keep a headache diary in which you write down the treatments that work best for you in each situation. Also, evaluate the actions you take to avoid triggers and to prepare for a coming headache. Do those actions make a difference?
  • Recheck your list of triggers from time to time. Look for changes in the triggers and for new patterns to your headaches.
  • Share your findings with your doctor, who may suggest other things you can try.

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