Triggers, Protectors, and Predictors in Episodic Migraine

  • Michael J. MarmuraEmail author
Episodic Migraine (S Nahas, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Episodic Migraine


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.


Episodic migraine Fasting headache Migraine triggers Food triggers Menstrual migraine Weather in headache Migraine diaries 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Michael J. Marmura reports grants paid to his institution by Teva for serving as a principal investigator. He also reports royalties paid to him by Demos Medical, Cambridge University Press, and MedLink Neurology. All reported information is outside of this work.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Neurology, Jefferson Headache ClinicThomas Jefferson UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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