Monday, August 28, 2006

trigger talk

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I'm seeing talk about migraine triggers all over the place lately.

For me, I've found that my triggers fall into three general categories: for sure triggers, maybe/sometimes triggers, and sketchy triggers. Heat, bright sunlight, most men's colognes, anything containing MSG, and soy products are my "for sure" triggers. Exposure to any of these conditions or products results in a migraine 99.9% of the time, so I know that limiting my contact helps me have less attacks. My "maybe/sometimes" triggers include smoked or cured meats (such as hot dogs), fluorescent lighting, and artificial sweeteners. I try to limit my exposure to these items, but I can tolerate them some of the time. And my "sketchy" triggers are mostly food-related, such as peanut butter, bananas, nuts, tomatoes, and pineapple. These are things that may be responsible for some of my migraines, but I'm just not convinced. I really don't limit my exposure to these items.

Triggers are, well, tricky. I have identified many, many triggers for my migraines. And eliminated them to the extent humanly possible. But I still have chronic migraines. It's great that elimination of a food or product reduces migraine frequency for many people. For a lot of us, though, even the most careful examination and elimination of every single substance we come into contact with does very little to prevent our pain. This frustrates me because I get the sense that the uninformed assume I'd feel better if only I cared enough to identify and sacrifice the sources of my pain. But migraine is a neurological disorder. And it isn't always so simple to get your body to follow your lead.

Other talk about triggers:
I Like Canada, I Really Do
Actually, to say that I hate Montreal Steak Seasoning isn’t quite true either. I am actually quite ambivalent about it. On one hand, I love what it does to a steak. On the other hand, I hate what it does to my head. You see, Montreal Steak Seasoning is the “One True Trigger.”

It's easy to misattribute triggers. I think of it as the fettuccine alfredo phenomenon. When I was a kid, I ate fettuccine alfredo, then came down with a stomach bug. Twenty years later, the completely irrational belief that fettuccine alfredo causes stomach bugs remains.

I am, of course, reluctant to test different legumes to see if they are triggers. Not only because I don't want to have a migraine, I don't want to learn that I have to stop eating them.

Is stress a migraine trigger or not?

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