MCLEAN, VIRGINIA – (December 15, 2010) – Did you know that almost 30 million Americans suffer from migraine headaches? It’s true, according to the National Headache Foundation. For those who live with migraines, or suspect they may get them, there are some things to avoid that are common triggers.

“Unfortunately, no exact explanation has been found for what causes or brings on a person’s migraine,” explains Dr. Gary Kaplan, founder of The Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine, located in McLean, Virginia. “But, through the self-reporting of those who suffer from migraines, we do have ideas of what triggers them, which can help many patients avoid or cut down on the incidence of these sometimes disabling headaches.”

Migraine headaches are characterized by a pain that pulses or throbs in one area of the head. While someone is having a migraine headache, they are also sensitive to sound and light, and may even become nauseated and vomit.

While there are no definitive solutions to ensure that your migraine headache is never again triggered, health-care specialists have identified some common culprits to best avoid. Try to avoid these five triggers:

  1. Changing your sleep patterns. The more your sleep schedule remains unchanged, the better off you will be. Seven to nine hours per night is ideal.
  2. Stress and anxiety. Keep stress at bay, and you’ll have a better chance of doing the same with migraine headaches. Meditation can help.
  3. Overuse of pain medications. The overuse of Tylenol, Advil and other pain relievers can actually worsen headache frequency and duration.
  4. Skipping meals and eating certain foods. Although the mechanism is not understood, many people report migraines being triggered after they have skipped a meal. Also there are foods that many cite as being migraine triggers, such as monosodium glutamate (MSG), nitrates (found in processed meats), aspartame, tyramine (found in aged cheese and smoked fish), alcohol and chocolate.
  5. Certain smells. Many people who suffer from migraines find that perfume, cleaning products or cigarette smoke can trigger one.

“Even changes in illumination, such as bright sunlight or fluorescent lights, have been suspected of triggering a migraine,” adds Kaplan. “It is important for those who suffer from migraines to keep track of what appears to be triggers their own pain. That’s the best way to try and avoid unwanted headache pain.”

The Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine helps many patients who have battled disabling chronic migraine headaches find relief from through combining the best of conventional and alternative medicine treatments. If you experience such headaches but have not been officially diagnosed, or have not yet found relief, do not hesitate to speak with a physician.

About The Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine

Located in McLean, Virgina, The Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine has been finding solutions for individuals suffering with chronic pain and illness for over 25 years. The center’s founder, Dr. Gary Kaplan, is one of only 18 physicians in the country who is a board-certified specialist in Family Medicine and Pain Medicine. To learn more about The Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine, visit