Triggers….when things can change very quickly from good to bad…

Although my migraines are much better then they were, I find I still get the odd hum dinger! I also do still have waves dizziness every day but again its much better then it was. Over the years after keeping a little diary of what the triggers are, I can finally try and avoid some of these situations or things to help.

Some of these or all of these might resonate with migraine or vestibular migraine sufferers. I would love to hear how you have managed if you do get migraines from any of these triggers and if there are any that I have not listed below.

Bright lights or flashing lights (this is a big topic to cover off!) –  My friends and family know that I love retail therapy, what woman doesn’t! Although sometimes I do take it to the extreme! So naturally I like to visit retail stores but unfortunately I have to pay the price in a few of them! One recently was a well known clothing brand, I popped in to buy a couple of items for my daughters, I had not been in there for a long time and do not remember the lights being an issue before. But this time my visit was short lived and I had to get my mum to take over the purchase as the bright lights in there set off a big vertigo attack. I know you have to see what you are buying but why oh why do they have to be so bright! They were ridiculously bright, plus they had a very bright plasma behind the checkout which had flashing lights too!

I mentioned something to the person in the shop, who actually agreed with me that all the staff find it too bright. When I went home I wrote a letter to them via email, they responded pretty promptly. My concern was not for myself as I can live without going in that store (better for the bank balance) but my concern was for other sufferers of light sensitivity or light triggered epilepsy etc They assured me that they would be asking the Guidford store to turn the lights down. On passing there they other day they were still very bright! Needless to say I will be writing to them again!  I also find corridors with bright panel lights disturbing, especially the hospital corridors and also my consultants room ironically.

I have recently purchased some very good sunglasses that only let about 20% light in, they did not come cheap (Oakleys) but they are fabulous and have made a difference to my retail outings. I have heard that there are some amazing glasses you can get in America which are specifically for light sensitivity, if I can find the website link that I temporarily lost out of my bookmarks, I will blog about it. I also have a sensitivity to sunlight when its very bright, especially when its flashing behind a row of trees. Reflections in water etc can be an issue too.

I have to be careful with lights at home, when I am watching TV at nighttime, I have to have some lights on otherwise the TV is far to bright, so I find if I have lights in my peripheral vision its better for me. Not many people know but I actually went without watching TV for 6 months when I was terribly bad back in 2013.

I also find some restaurants lights are disturbing, recently I was out with some of my lovely girlfriends and unfortunately I had a bad turn (repeated vertigo attacks) due to the lighting. They had funny orange bulbs with bright lines through them and the toilet lights were incredibly light! It was my 40th birthday party recently and they had the same lights there, so my husband had to get most of them switched off and I had to just have my back to the remaining ones.

Hunger – my original consultant in 2012 warned me to never get too hungry it’s not good for vestibular migraine sufferers, not sure why! But it’s true it really does affect me.

Cinemas and theatres (I am gutted!) – Unfortunately I have had to give up going to the cinema, I find the screen too bright and big and noisy too, its such a shame as I love going with my daughters. I have just recently plucked up the courage to go to the theatre to see Snow White with my daughters. I really wanted to take them and experience it with them so I took my sunglasses and wore them throughout, I was ok most of the time. However I did have a few mini vertigo attacks as a lot of the children had some of these very bright flashing toys. To be honest I am not sure why they are allowed in the theatre anyway they were very off putting to normal people without light sensitivity issue!

Water – Since giving up alcohol in April 2013 I have drunk a lot of water on a daily basis, but sometimes it would only be about 1 litre or just under. Now I am on Danette Mays plan I drink between 3-4 litres a day (sometimes 2.5 at the worst if I am out and a about) but I find if I do not drink near 3 litres my head doesn’t like it and I get headaches. If I get headaches my balance is worse and vertigo, so I must be mindful to keep up with the water intake!

Caffeine – A terrible trigger, I used to drink quite a lot of caffeine on a weekly basis, to get me through the day! Especially in the early days with twin babies! But I cannot have it full stop now, I gave up caffeine a while back (think it was March 2015) as it is a terrible trigger. So best to be avoided if you can!

Head movements – Turning my head quickly or bending down and up – this used to put me in a spin, I only used to turn my head to talk to someone and suddenly I would have a vertigo attack. So my balance consultant (rehabilitation lady) taught me to be mindful of doing things slowly.

Walking, or not as the case may be – When I had terrible Vestibular neuritis I was not supposed to sit down for longer then 20 minutes as my brain needed to be constantly trained to compensate. Which means that because my balance was off in one ear my brain had to try and learn to compensate and balance things out. The only way to do this is walk around and do the movements that challenge your balance. So I found that if I do not walk every day my brain quickly forgets. Although my neuritis is better, I am sure it is still a contributor to my daily balance issues, as it takes a long time for nerves to rejuvenate (and I am not sure if they ever get back to full capacity anyway, when I was retested in 2014 they had shown signs of working again).

Colds – If I ever get a cold, it really effects my balance even more as any virus can inflame the vestibular nerves. My neuritis was caused by repeated bouts of tonsillitis which kept hurting the nerves each time I had them, so it was inevitable that my nerves would almost go. Best thing to do is avoid colds altogether which is near impossible, however have to say I never really get any as I take a strong pro-biotic and eat plenty of leafy veg etc. If I do get a little sniffle its very very minor.

Sleep and tiredness – Thank goodness I am blessed with good sleepers, as if I do not get my full quota I am a world of trouble as tiredness is a trigger. But its more about your quality of sleep, I take vitamin B12 which is meant to aid good sleep and having no caffeine or alcohol helps too!

Stress – One of the biggies and sets off bad dizziness a headache and anxiety! I try and avoid it at all costs but sometimes being busy like I am I get stressed… mindfulness is so important and my headspace app time is vital! Thats why I do Pilates every night, it only takes 20 minutes but its time I have to myself which is vital for wellbeing!

Spinning things! – I have to avoid rides at theme parks, merry go rounds, anything that might spin me around or chuck me about!

Technology – My original consultant told me back in 2012 that as a vestibular migraine sufferer I should limit my computer time! Yeah right I said to him, how am I going to do that!!?! He meant that I have to take time out, I cannot be on a computer for too long as it causes issues for me. To get around my technology sensitivity, I try and not be on the computer for too long at a time, I take breaks in-between if I can! I also have the screen on its dullest setting, my phone is almost pitch black. One of the things that sets of a bad vertigo attack is scrolling on a computer too much or on a phone or ipad, so I do it slowly or in bits.

Strong smells – very strong perfumes or chemical smells can set off a headache.

vinbrating things – steady!!! I’ve now realised that My vestibular cannot tolerate vibrating things! These include electric toothbrushes and jet washes! If used they leave me with severe dizziness and migraines for days!

Although the list is rather long above, knowing my triggers is comfort to me as I can adjust my life accordingly. The things that upset me are the things I miss out on, trips to cinema with my children, going on theme park rides etc. If you do not know your triggers then you cannot get on with life, my big tip is to make a diary every time you have a vertigo attack, every time you feel dizzy or if you have constant dizziness like me, score your day out of 10, 1 being best 10 being worst. Write down things you have done that day, or in fact the evening or day before, as I find that if I have done too much the day before the next day results in a migraine.

I would love to hear from you if you have any tips on how to deal with some of these triggers, as I have only stumbled across solutions personally. Or if you have any other triggers you would like to share please comment below.

Lara x

One Comment Add yours

  1. Thank you for listing your triggers, mine are the same! Another trigger is sulfites like the ones found in luncheon meats. I must buy organic foods because of additives. Aged cheese is a problem and forget chocolate, it is not only my favorite food, but also the biggest migraine trigger that I can’t eat anymore.

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