There is no way to prevent migraine, but if you do suffer from migraine, figuring out your personal triggers and avoiding them is the best way to reduce the number of headaches you experience. Migraine prevention methods can also make headaches less severe and shorter when they do happen and prevent rebound headaches caused by taking too much acute-treatment medication.

Lifestyle Changes

If you are diagnosed with migraine, figuring out your personal triggers and avoiding them is a good way to prevent headaches. There are many ways to do this:

Stay on a Regular Sleep Schedule

Go to bed and wake up around the same time every day, even on weekends.

Eat Regularly

Missed meals and low blood sugar are migraine triggers.

Drink Plenty of Water

Dehydration can cause migraine headaches.

Avoid Food Triggers

These vary from person to person, but common ones include: 

  • monosodium glutamate (MSG), found in many Asian dishes
  • nitrates and nitrites, found in processed or cured meats
  • sulfites, found in many dried fruits
  • aged cheeses
  • alcohol, especially red wine
  • chocolate
  • large amounts of caffeine

Exercise Regularly

During a migraine headache, exercise worsens pain, but otherwise, light to moderate exercise can relieve stress, another major migraine trigger.

Avoid Stressful Situations.

If you feel stress building, try to remove yourself from the setting and calm down.

Limit Estrogen-Containing Medications

The hormones in birth control pills as well as in hormone replacement therapy drugs used for menopause symptoms can cause migraine headaches. If you're taking one of these medications and experience migraines, your doctor may consider reducing your dose or stopping the medication altogether.

Stress Reduction

There are various techniques available to reduce tension and stress. Studies have shown the following to be effective in preventing migraine headaches.

Biofeedback

This system teaches people to monitor and control their physical responses, including muscle tension and even blood pressure. Biofeedback was once considered an alternative treatment, but many studies have proven its effectiveness, and it is now a common migraine treatment.

Relaxation Therapy

There are various techniques used to relax the body, including deep breathing, visualization, and progressive muscle relaxation (a technique of tensing and relaxing various muscles in a specific order).

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a form of psychological treatment that teaches patients to recognize and cope with sources of stress in their lives.

Massage

This can reduce muscle tension, encourage relaxation, and improve sleep.

Drugs & Medications

Many different drugs used for other diseases have been found to prevent migraine headaches or reduce their frequency. These include blood-pressure drugs, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants (drugs used for epilepsy). Visit the Migraine Drugs section for more details.