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There are many ways you can better foresee and prevent migraine attacks. Techniques include keeping a migraine diary, taking certain supplements, and more.

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Getty Images/Mengwen Cao

Around 39 million Americans experience migraine, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. If you’re one of these people, you know the sometimes debilitating symptoms they can cause, which include:

By identifying and avoiding specific triggers, you can minimize your chances of having a migraine episode.

Read on to learn how to avoid a migraine before it begins.

Loud noises, flashing lights (for example, strobe lights), and sensory stimulation are common triggers for migraine episodes. These stimuli may be difficult to avoid, but knowing that they occur in certain situations and environments may help. These include:

  • driving at night
  • being in movie theaters
  • attending clubs or crowded venues
  • experiencing glare from the sun

Be sure to take breaks from the TV or computer screen to rest your eyes, and adjust the brightness levels on digital screens. If at all possible, avoid situations involving audio or visual disturbances.

Certain foods and drinks can trigger migraine attacks, such as:

  • chocolate
  • red wine
  • processed meats
  • sweeteners
  • cheese

Knowing which foods and additives bring about a migraine episode for you can help you learn to avoid them. Foods and drinks with caffeine or alcohol — especially red wines or champagne — are common triggers. You may need to limit the amount you consume during the day or avoid them altogether.

By keeping a diary, you can better identify your specific migraine triggers. Here are examples of the things you could keep note of:

This can help you see a pattern in your migraine occurrences and will make avoiding them easier.

Hormones play a significant role in migraine. Many people assigned female at birth tend to experience more migraine attacks during, or just before, their menstrual period. They may need to be especially vigilant of their food choices and exercise habits during this time, as this can address symptoms before they begin.

Oral contraceptives and hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may increase the frequency and severity of migraine episodes. Some people may find relief by switching to another form of birth control, while others may find they have fewer migraine attacks while taking birth control.

While migraine can be treated with or without medications, it’s important to get the proper nutrients.

Taking certain herbs and minerals may help prevent migraine episodes. Magnesium deficiency has been shown to contribute to the onset of migraine attacks, so taking a daily supplement may help reduce episodes.

Talk with your doctor about herbal remedies and other nonprescription supplements that may ease your symptoms.

Changes in the weather can affect your migraine patterns.

High humidity and hot temperatures, and even rainy days, can stimulate attacks. If the weather becomes uncomfortable for you, you may need to step inside and take a break from the outdoors.

Of course, you can’t always avoid going outside, but you can minimize your time spent in certain migraine-inducing weather.

Fasting or skipping meals can trigger migraine headaches. For most people, it’s best to eat within an hour of waking up and then every 3 to 4 hours. Hunger and dehydration both cause migraine attacks, so be sure to drink enough water and avoid skipping meals.

Lack of sleep can also aggravate symptoms, so make sure you clock in at least 7 to 8 hours. However, getting too much sleep can also trigger migraine episodes for some people, so find out what works best for you.

Although we can’t always avoid stressful situations, we can manage how we react to them. Migraine attacks are a common result of stressful events. Relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, and biofeedback can help reduce levels of stress.

Regular exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle. But intense exercise, such as weightlifting, can trigger migraine episodes.

Pay attention to your body’s response to certain activities. Opt for activities that promote stress reduction without putting too much strain on the body, such as yoga, light aerobics, or tai chi.

Taking anti-inflammatory drugs prior to exercise may help ease symptoms.

Learning to avoid your specific triggers and planning ahead are an important part of managing your migraine episodes. By catching them early, you can avoid the most severe symptoms.

For more tips on preventing and managing migraine, you can download our free app, Bezzy Migraine. Not only can you find expert resources on migraine, but we’ll connect you with real people who understand what you’re going through. Ask questions, seek advice, and build relationships with others who get it.

Download the app for iPhone or Android.