What triggers a headache?

Many headaches, such as migraines and tension-type headaches, are brought on by triggers. Because there are so many triggers, you may have a set that differs from someone else's. Common triggers include:

  • certain foods
  • weather changes
  • fatigue
  • light
  • noise
  • alcohol
  • lack of sleep
  • too much sleep
  • changes in hormone levels

A single thing, such as a change in weather, can trigger your headache. Or your headache can be the result of several things, such as a combination of certain foods and drinks. For instance, drinking red wine and eating chocolate together trigger a headache for some people, even when neither would trigger a headache alone. You most likely have more than one trigger.


The first step in controlling the number and severity of your headaches is to identify your personal triggers. If you can identify your personal triggers, you can avoid them and prevent many headaches. You may also be able to lessen how long a headache lasts and how much it hurts. That's because avoiding triggers after your headache starts can keep the pain from getting worse. To learn more about the importance of triggers in managing your headaches, see How can I avoid triggers?

Migraine Triggers

Medical science knows more about triggers for migraine headaches than for other types of headaches. To learn more about common triggers for migraine headaches, follow the links below.


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