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Are your vestibular migraine triggers hitting the top of your ‘bucket’?

Managing vestibular migraines can feel overwhelming at first. When you are dizzy, unsteady or nauseous, it’s hard to think clearly enough to figure out your triggers. And some triggers may seem inconsistent. For example, one day a vestibular migraine sufferer might eat a piece of chocolate and feel fine, and a week later they might have a migraine after eating it.

So frustrating, right?

Is it even possible to manage vestibular migraines and reduce dizziness?

I’m here to tell you: You’re not alone, and yes migraines can be effectively managed. I’ve learned to manage my own vestibular migraines, and I help clients successfully manage theirs every day.

Getting migraines under control may mean taking advantage of several strategies, including lifestyle changes, vestibular rehabilitation, medications, and cognitive behavioral therapy. I discuss these aspects more in another post as well as in my free e-book.

Generally speaking, a few foundational wellness practices can go a long way:

  • Get regular, gentle cardio exercise

  • Practice daily stress management techniques

  • Avoid skipping meals

  • Drink plenty of water

  • Take frequent breaks from screen time

I also want to share a strategy with you that’s known as the “migraine bucket” approach to managing triggers.

First, identify your triggers

This can take a few weeks of journaling your symptoms as well as any possible contributing factors like:

  • diet

  • stress levels

  • physical activity

  • sleep quality and amount

  • environmental factors such as weather patterns or allergens

  • hormone fluctuations

I often guide clients through this process. We brainstorm together to figure out patterns that might not be immediately apparent. Once we have identified the triggers, then we talk about “the bucket.”

Vestibular migraine symbolic bucket filling with water
Vestibular migraine triggers can fill your "bucket" and spark an episode that causes dizziness, lightheadedness, nausea, fogginess, and other symptoms.

The Migraine Bucket

Vestibular migraine sufferers may have varying degrees of tolerance for their triggers, like the aforementioned example of someone eating chocolate. Why is that? How can something be a trigger one day and not the next?

It helps to visualize a bucket. If you have an empty bucket, you have a lot of room to get to the top before a vestibular migraine is triggered. So if one of your triggers is stress, for example, that goes in the bottom of the bucket. It doesn’t necessarily fill it all the way to the top, so you may be able to tolerate some stress without getting a vestibular migraine. However, if you only got a few hours of sleep the night before, plus you have a lot of stress, and your hormones are changing due to your menstrual cycle, those factors all stack on top of each other in that “bucket” and can reach the top, triggering a vestibular migraine.

The flip side of this is knowing what activities can help reduce the level in the “bucket.” Mindfulness practices, going for a walk, sticking to a bedtime routine, eating consistent meals, drinking water, and taking your prescribed medications and supplements all help support the body and reduce the likelihood of triggering a migraine.

This knowledge is powerful because it gives you some control over what is happening in your body. For example, if your day starts on a stressful note, you can use the strategies you know your body responds well to, in order to try to prevent the migraine.

Be kind and gentle with yourself

Dealing with vestibular migraines can be a very frustrating experience. As a fellow vestibular migraine sufferer, I totally get it. Don’t be too hard on yourself as you work through this process, and know it’s not about perfection when managing migraines. It’s about learning what your body needs, and doing your best to support it, and understanding that an occasional migraine may still happen, and that’s not your fault.

My goal as your vestibular specialist is to empower you to learn what your triggers are and figure out how to prevent vestibular migraines when possible as well as how to minimize their impact when you do have one. I also treat related issues that contribute to migraines, such as visual vestibular disintegration and postural muscle factors.

Every migraine sufferer is unique, and it helps to have someone guiding you through this process. Together, you and I will explore your patterns, and I’ll create a customized treatment strategy to help you effectively manage your vestibular migraines and get your dizziness, nausea, lightheadedness, headaches, and other symptoms under control.

Call or text us at 732-691-4681 or email us at for your free dizzy analysis!


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