What Causes Migraines?

Dr. Alex Vidan

Some people may get migraines only once or twice a year, while others may get them up to several times per week.

But what causes them? The short answer is that scientists aren’t really sure. Migraines are thought to be caused by abnormal brain activity, but the mechanism that causes them is not yet completely clear.

While we don’t know exactly how migraines happen, that doesn’t mean we don't know what triggers them. While everyone is different, there are some common factors that contribute to migraines, and may raise your risk of experiencing one. In this blog from Vidan Family Chiropractic, we’ll take a look at a few of them.

The Top 10 Most Common Migraine Triggers

Everyone who has migraines has different triggers. Things that cause migraines in one person may not affect you at all, and vice versa. Still, there are a lot of common triggers that tend to raise the risk of experiencing a migraine:

Hormonal Changes

This is one reason why migraines may be more common in women than men. About 75% of women report having migraines during their menstrual period, so the hormonal changes that happen during this time may be a significant contributing factor.

Taking Certain Medications

Taking hormonal birth control pills and certain other medications like nitroglycerin can raise the risk of migraines in some people who suffer from the condition.

Caffeine and Alcohol Use

While the exact mechanism isn’t understood, both caffeine and alcohol use have been associated with a higher risk of migraines. Counter-intuitively, though, some people actually report that caffeine can help relieve migraine symptoms.


Dehydration is a common trigger of migraines, so make sure you drink plenty of water! This may explain why caffeine and alcohol use are associated with migraines, since caffeine and alcohol can both contribute to dehydration.

Emotional Triggers

Stress is one of the most common migraine triggers. Migraines are also associated with other negative emotions like depression and anxiety, or even other emotions like surprise or excitement.

Inadequate Sleep

Low-quality sleep, interrupted sleep, changes in your sleep schedule, or working an overnight shift are all associated with a higher risk of migraines.

Physical Exertion

Heavy exercise and physical activity can trigger migraines, particularly if you’re not used to exercising regularly.

Changes in the Weather

For some people, changes in the weather or the seasons may lead to a higher risk of migraines. Excessive heat, thunderstorms, and changes in atmospheric pressure can all lead to migraines.

Bright or Flashing Lights

In certain people, sudden exposure to bright light like sunlight, or other intense, bright, or flashing lights can lead to a migraine.

Strong Smells

Certain smells, particularly perfume, cologne, chemical smells, certain foods, or even gasoline may trigger migraines in some people.

Get Your Migraines Under Control – Come To Vidan Family Chiropractic

While doctors and scientists may not be completely sure what causes migraines, the team at Vidan Family Chiropractic knows how to help you get the relief you need! Dr. Alex Vidan and our chiropractic team are experts in migraine and headache treatment in St. Louis, MO.

With treatments such as chiropractic adjustments and lifestyle changes, we can work with you to treat your condition, identify your triggers, and reduce the frequency and severity of your migraines. So don’t wait, and don’t let migraines stop you from living your life. Contact us online or call Vidan Family Chiropractic at (314) 210-6556, and see how we can help you fight back against migraines!

What Causes Migraines