Trigger factors in migraine patients

Arq Neuropsiquiatr. 2008 Sep;66(3A):494-9. doi: 10.1590/s0004-282x2008000400011.


Background: Migraine is a chronic neurological disease with several trigger factors, including dietary, hormonal and environmental factors.

Purpose: To analyse precipitating factors in a sample of migraine patients.

Method: Two hundred consecutive migraine patients were interviewed about possible trigger factors for migraine attacks.

Results: Most patients showed at least one dietary trigger, fasting was the most frequent one, followed by alcohol and chocolate. Hormonal factors appeared in 53%, being the pre-menstrual period the most frequent trigger. Physical activities caused migraine in 13%, sexual activities in 2.5% and 64% reported emotional stress a trigger factor. 81% related some sleep problem as a trigger factor. Regarding environmental factors, smells were reported by 36.5%.

Conclusion: Trigger factors are frequent in migraine patients, its avoidance may decrease headache frequency and also improve patients' quality of life.

MeSH terms

  • Cacao
  • Candy / adverse effects
  • Chronic Disease
  • Diet / adverse effects*
  • Environment
  • Ethanol / adverse effects
  • Fasting / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Migraine Disorders / chemically induced
  • Migraine Disorders / etiology*
  • Motor Activity
  • Premenstrual Syndrome / complications
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / complications
  • Smell
  • Stress, Psychological / complications


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones
  • Ethanol