Trigger foods and the length of time it takes for a migraine to begin

I was diagnosed with MAV in 2011, but it actually began two years earlier. I was supposed to follow a migraine diet but didn’t, although the medication I was given sorted me out! After years of being on no medication and the Vertigo being barely/rarely there, I started again with it in September 2016. This time the medication hasn’t worked. I’ve followed the consultants letter regarding the medication/s. The only thing left to try is the diet… I suffer from BED (Binge Eating Disorder). When the Vertigo came back my BED became worse than it has ever been, and I’ve had it forty years! So…I can’t follow a “normal” healthy eating plan, never mind the migraine one, However I do need to try it. My question is, how long does it take for a trigger food to trigger a migraine? I never get a migraine, but I need to know so that I can figure out how long to attempt it for. Because I don’t get a migraine, I can’t see the diet improving my symptoms, but I need to be sure. Thanks,


I’m a bit like you in that for other medical reasons I wouldn’t be able to follow a migraine diet however my migraine specialist neurologist doesn’t subscribe to them anyway. Some swear by them. Some prefer to use the six C diet which you will find elsewhere in this forum. Some people on a strict diet seem to manage their MAV well without much else except maybe supplements. I think the diet needs to be followed for some time, months rather than a week or so. As you already have another food related condition you might just find the additional stress of trying the diet outweighs any benefit. Could just be the resurgence of the Vertigo caused a bit of anxiety that exacerbated your BEDs,

I don’t think there’s a definite answer to the length of time food triggers take to kick in. Probably like much else with MAV it’s very variable individual to individual. Also triggers can be cumulative and you might have non-food (ie environmental) triggers too. Might be good idea to start a migraine diary. That can help with sorting out what’s what.

Don’t think there’s no alternative left for you but diet. I think you found the medication that worked previously has failed you this time. I think that’s common, not working second-time around. However there are alot of preventatives out there. See your GP. They may be able to prescribe an alternative, If not ask to see a migraine specialist neurologist or better still a neuro-otologist. If they suggest a diet, go for it then.

Good Luck with finding a solution.

I’m constantly light-headed every day so there’s no pattern. My doctors misdiagnosed me both times round. The second time round they tried various medications, and then said if x doesn’t work you are stuck with it, which wasn’t strictly true. I had been referred to ENT the first time round and was discharged still in the same mess! I’d also seen a private consultant who told me to live with it. I was the one who found the consultant who sorted me out pretty quickly the first time round. I kept challenging the doctors diagnosis, which is when they finally sent me for a test which would tell them what was wrong. Once I had the MAV confirmed again, I brought the consultant who had helped me last time back on board. He’s a Neuro-otologist. He thought I was doing the diet last time and this time he will have assumed (as he did last time) that I’m doing the diet. I daren’t phone and say I’ve completed your instructions on meds and dosage until I’ve followed the diet for a while.

FWIW I find consumption affects tinnitus the most. But coffee is definitely an exacerbator of migraines if you are going through a bad phase.

Hi, I have been on antimigraine diet fot 2 years and it helped me very much with the migraine. Some foods like chocolate or red winevand beer provoked a migraine attack within an hour, sometimes 45 minutes, while other foods took 6-10 hours. It depends. Triggers are not the same for everyone

I have constant tinnitus, It started a good five years before the Vertigo, but it’s worth me trying to listen is and see where there are times when it’s worse. I do my best to block it out.

Hi, I still haven’t started the diet. Because it never reaches a migraine I keep putting it off. It doesn’t help that I haven’t decided how long is long enough, to prove or disprove that food plays any part in the constant lightheadedness. At first I thought three weeks, then I thought two…

May I ask, how were you diagnosed with MAV? Presumably by a consultant. How did he conclude yr condition was migraineous? By taking a detailed medical history, perhaps you had migraine years back.

How does the vertigo affect you? When you sit up in bed or turn quickly. Is it a brief event or a sustained attack that leaves you unable to stand. How you noticed anything that triggers it? Supermarkets? Bright sun? Bending forwards?

Hope I’m not being too personal, just anxious to help. The neurologist I saw didn’t rate a migraine diet at all or even cutting caffeine out. That pleased me cos MAV makes life quite miserable enough without starving myself of all the things I love.

I was diagnosed by Dr Surenthiran. He’s an Neuro-otologist. He asked questions and did a few tests. I’ve only ever had one what I would class as a migraine, and that was about twenty five years ago. I feel light headed all the time, even when I’m perfectly still. A lot of the time when I get out of bed, the vertigo makes me sit down again. It’s difficult to walk in a straight line, if not impossible. The worst I have ever been was when I had to hold onto walls and furniture to walk at all. Thankfully it’s only been that bad once. I’ve never fallen to the floor. I’ve been lucky. fridges and walls etc stop it from happening. Turning, looking up or down can make it worse. I don’t have a spinning sensation at all. So all in all, it’s constant and the severity can change at a moments notice. Most of the time I can get out and about if I have to, but it’s difficult. I was sat in Dr Surenthiran’s office hoping it wasn’t MAV as I knew he would tell me to cut caffeine out! I’d seen him on a programme and the girl on there was diagnosed with MAV.

Dr Surentherian is The MAV Expert in the UK. The Top. The Best. You couldn’t go wrong there. Can’t imagine anybody would query one of his diagnoses.

Thanks for the details. You wouldn’t need to be having regular migraines to get MAV. One many years ago would be enough to ‘qualify’ for sure. In fact I’ve read people who have regular headache migraines tend to go on having exactly that for as long as they get migraines. It’s the ones that get one or a few and then have a long break that find it tends to return as Migraine Associated Vertigo - MAV - at a later date. That’s what happened to me. Could be due to hormonal fluctuations. Mine I’m sure was.

I’ve had MAV for 15 years and I don’t get headaches. Some people call these ‘silent’ migraines. The neuro-otologist I saw told me ‘migraines cause vertigo’, ie vertigo is a symptom that you have migraine so it looks as if you and I can look at our ‘migraine preventative medications’ as ‘vertigo’preventative medications. The vertigo is the outward manifestation of our migraine attack. It stands in place of the migraine headache.

I really doubt vertigo is migraine. I think it’s a sensory event. It’s so unlike migraine, it’s relatively short and sharp usually and it can occur due to position … I very much doubt you can bring migraine on and off like a tap with just position. Migraine is an electrical brain storm … you can’t just stop it by moving your head! :slight_smile:

For it to be migraine, it’d have to be a hallucination … and I’m sorry but there are so many varied symptoms with MAV I cannot believe they are all hallucinations - sure they could be ‘misinterpretations’ … but that’s not quite the same thing … and why would they all be restricted to hallucinations of balance and movement issues?

In addition it’s described exactly the same way by sufferers of other conditions, including Menieres & BPPV sufferers. It seems very unlikely to me that people with vestibular migraine only would just happen to hallucinate sensations felt by sufferers of another condition. That just seems to me like fantasy and somewhat wishful thinking.

Worse, we don’t even have proof what vertigo is even in Menieres. It stinks.

Personal opinion alert.

You going to ‘pop’ around to Dr S and tell him, cos I’m not going to!!

Agreed. It’s all something to do with hypersensitivity/sensory mismatch coming from the ear trouble/migraine or whatever caused the upset in the first place.

There must be different types of vertigo then. BPPV is positional, relatively short and sharp, agreed. You can stop it or cause it to kick in, by position.

The vertigo I get, in place of the headache in the migraine attack is certainly sharp. Unfortunately not even relatively short and not reversible by positional changes. I have had rotary vertigo (the room spins, constantly and fast) for 8 days continuously. The only way not to ‘see’ it was to keep your eyes shut. The only way not to ‘recognise’ it was to be asleep. That’s the type of vertigo that replaced my migraine headache.

With regards to@gailm I was trying to explain migraine doesn’t necessary mean headache. Maybe I picked the wrong analogy.

Doctors like Dr. S are just trying to do the best for their patients with the information at hand. No issue with that. Not his personal fault the science is incomplete. Those doctors are working at a clinical level and prescribing protocols based on historically best clinical response. All that is well and good and I’ve no issue with that. We are lucky to have them.

When the discipline tries to weave a story around this condition that clearly has a lot of holes in it, that’s when I have an issue.

It’s like there is only one version of the truth, however unproven, however hypothetical. This is really infuriating. They write this stuff down like it’s fact. It’s not.

Sure, people are getting migraines … but what else is going on? It’s just not that simple.

I think its exactly the same vertigo … but sometimes you have the ability to stop it by moving … other times you have brought it on by moving … sometimes you have no choice. My bet is the underlying aetiology of vertigo is very similar whether you have discretion to experience it or not, just depends on the circumstance.

This is another thing that annoys me about the state of things … if you have postional vertigo you have BPPV, and if you’ve already been diagnosed with MAV they then say ‘oh you have MAV & BPPV’ … oh really? I never had BPPV before I had MAV so I’m expected to believe I just happen to have acquired two different vestibular conditions at the same time? That’s a bit of a strange coincidence don’t you think? What is really going on?!

You explain it how you like Helen, my beef is not with you.

I’m just frustrated with the state of medicine.

I must not get triggered by this stuff … lol

Dr. Hain has some interesting information on the different causes of dizziness and vertigo.

It’s on this page:

There’s a lot on that page. Here are a couple of quotes from that page:

"…To deal with it rationally, one must break dizziness down into categories:

  • Inner ear dizziness (otologic)
  • Medical dizziness
  • Neurological dizziness (central)
  • Psychiatric dizziness and undiagnosed dizziness"


"Our bottom line is – About 15% of the population has dizziness. Of these,

  • 40% have otologic dizziness
  • 10% have central dizziness
  • 25% have medical dizziness (not much vertigo here)
  • 25% have undiagnosed dizziness"

He goes on to define each of the four groups that are listed above (such as otologic dizziness) so keep going down that page to find the detailed definitions.

Dr. Hain also has a newer page on some of the most recent information on certain supplements and their use in the prevention of migraine:

The above page includes newer information on:

  • Vitamin D
  • Coenzyme Q10
  • Magnesium oxide
  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2)

The above page may supersede the older information that is included on his more-comprehensive page on supplements and alternative treatments:

My MAV started with a very brief two-minute bout of vertical vertigo,(the N-O’s words, not mine), the TV I was watching suddenly appeared to start climbing the wall. Understanding in retrospect the GP diagnosed BPPV. The next, and many subsequent attacks started overnight/on first waking and lasted 24-48 hours. Inially the vertigo would not be noticeable provided I sat perfectly still (GP told me not to go to bed and lie down ever until vertigo went away). Then gradually the MAV became more severe.

It morphed.

Search me. I guess the answer to that is nobody really knows. I’m with you all the way having suffered unmedicated for 12 years constantly being told “it’s BPPV, there’s nothing we can do about that’.

Play It Again, Sam or should I say James.

He’s lovely isn’t he? Last Summer I broke down in tears whilst having a telephone consultation with him. He went above and beyond to try and help me deal with what had caused me to be in such a state.

That’s good. A bit of empathy goes a long way. Sounds like he might understand if you explained yr eating disorder is stopping you complying wkth the diet. I’ve never met him. From what I’ve read he’s very thorough and totally dedicated to his chosen subject and helped alot of people.