(SD-SP)  Migraine attacks can be extremely debilitating and are responsible for 1.3 million emergency room visits per year in the United States according to published research. Anyone who has experienced a migraine attack knows that, despite many misconceptions, a migraine attack is so much more than an ordinary headache. Unfortunately, it can be hard to know exactly when a migraine attack could occur and for many, attacks are unavoidable. Yet, it is important to recognize patterns so that you can discuss these with your doctor and find relief when necessary.

Migraine attacks can happen any time; however, according to the American Headache Foundation, nearly half of all migraine attacks happen in the early morning, between 4:00 AM and 9:00 AM. Part of this may be connected to the fact that a disruption in sleep habits could be a trigger for a migraine attack.

Another time a migraine attack can occur is during times of stress and tension. According to the National Headache Foundation (NHF), the scientific reason for this is because in times of emotional stress, “certain chemicals are released that provoke the vascular changes that cause a migraine headache.” It’s important to note that an attack trigger is not only related to negative stress; feelings of excitement can be a stress trigger too. If you’re finding that migraine attacks occur on weekends, it may be because a sudden period of calm after a stressful workweek, for example, can also be a trigger as well, the NHF notes.

“Self-care is an important tool for avoiding migraine attacks – in addition to mitigating stress, keeping hydrated is very important. Your doctor may also suggest avoiding alcohol and caffeine, as well as certain foods, if they seem to be related to your migraine attacks,” said Thomas Smith, MD, Chief Medical Officer of BioDelivery Sciences International, a company dedicated to driving innovative solutions for the treatment of serious and debilitating conditions like migraine.

Yet, changes in weather, flickering light bulbs or natural light, and certain smells – all of which can be hard to avoid or change – can also play a role in a migraine attack.

“While we understand what may trigger a migraine attack, everyone is different and ultimately migraine attacks do get in the way of daily life – whether the attack happens in the middle of the night, early in the morning or in the middle of the day. When they do happen, it is important to find a treatment that is convenient to use and fast-acting in order to get quick relief, hopefully within the first hour,” said. Dr. Smith.