Potential Migraine Causes

It is not clear what causes migraines. Abnormal brain activity which can affect nerve signals, chemicals and blood vessels in the brain could be the cause of migraines, although the exact cause is not known.


Migraines can be triggered by several factors, both inside and outside the body. These triggers vary by individual.

There are several factors that have been identified as a trigger of a migraine. The following are some possible triggers:

1 Emotional

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Tension
  • Shock
  • Depression
  • Excitement

2 Physical

  • Tiredness
  • Poor quality of sleep
  • Shift work
  • Poor posture
  • Neck or shoulder tension
  • Jet lag
  • Low blood sugar
  • Strenuous exercise, if you are not used to it

3 Dietary

  • Delayed or irregular meals
  • Dehydration
  • Alcohol
  • Tyramine (found in some foods such as cured meats)
  • Caffeine-containing products such as coffee or tea
  • Specific food such as chocolate, citrius fruit or cheese

4 Environmental

  • Bright lights
  • Flickering screens, such as television or computer screen
  • Smoking
  • Loud noises
  • Changes in climate (humidity or cold temperatures)
  • Strong smells


  • Some types of sleeping tablets
  • The combined contraceptive pill
  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT); which is sometimes used to relieve symptoms associated with the menopause


Fluctuating levels of hormones may also be a cause of a migraine attack. For women, sometimes migraines occur around the time of their period.

For these types of migraine, they tend to occur between 2 days before the start of the period to 3 days after.

If migraines are only experienced around this time, it is known as pure menstrual migraines. But most women experience them at other times too, and this is known as menstrual-related migraines.

After the menopause, many women find that their migraines improve. However, others find that the menopause can trigger migraines or make them worse.

We know how Migraines can impact on your quality of life. Which is why MIGRALEVE™ products work to treat symptoms of migraine and provide relief. Click here to find out which treatment option may be best for you.


Get some useful tips to help prevent a migraine attack.

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Potential Migraine Causes

Read more about what can trigger a migraine.

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Treatment and Relief

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Migraine Trigger Diary

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Always read the label. Ask your pharmacist for advice.

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Can cause addiction. For three days use only. This medicine can make you feel sleepy. Do not drive while taking this medicine until you know how it makes you feel.

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© Johnson & Johnson Limited 2015. This site was last updated on: 27th June 2022

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