Holiday Migraine Avoidance Tips

December 4, 2017
Jim Carleton

Since CGRP Antibodies cannot be found in anyone's formulary yet, we'll have to abide by the time honored trigger avoidance strategies during this holiday season.  Most agree the holiday season is meant to be a exceptionally joyful time of year. But a migraine can ruin the fun and celebration, and suck out the "joy"  for sure. Following are tips on how to avoid getting a migraine during the holiday season.

Stress, Again

For many people, just mentioning "the holidays" is enough to trigger a major stress attack. The preparation, the traveling, the shopping under those bright lights, the cooking, the gift-giving - it can be a nerve-wracking time of year. Stress is commonly recognized as one of the most powerful migraine triggers, so,  it's not a bad idea to try to as minimize stressful activities much as possible, even during this busy time. Plan events ahead, don't wait until the last minute to shop for gifts and try your best to find time to relax. Easier said than done, but it's worth it to avoid a migraine. Stress is one of those parts of our lives we have to try to manage year round.

Get Enough Sleep 

Let the kids stay up all night waiting for Santa. But for migraine sufferers, any alterations in sleep patterns brought about by holiday changes in life style can be a huge bummer in the form of a migraine headache. Maintaining a stable sleep model  can help reduce your chance of developing a migraine. Also defend against the urge to sleep in too late on your day off, as that can trigger a migraine. The trick is to keep your sleep pattern as stable and constant as possible.

Those Wonderful Smells 

From the aroma of the turkey in the oven, to the fragrance of a fresh cut Christmas tree or other trimmings, the holidays are filled with odors that have that Proustian Effect of evoking holidays past. But these smells can trigger migraines for some. Before you light those aroma-filled candles, or perhaps try a new perfume, check carefully to see what their effect may be. Smells, fragrances, and scents are all powerful migraine triggers. Try to avoid new odors and fragrances, and continue to avoid those that you know may trigger a migraine.

All that Wonderful Holiday Fare

New foods may find their way to the holiday table. We recommend avoiding odd or unusual dishes. Many traditional holiday foods are a minefield of triggers for migraine sufferers. Traditional holiday ham may contain nitrates which can be a migraine trigger for some. Another possible trigger is the chemical Tyramine which is found in aged cheeses, meats, and nuts. Watch out for any food that is aged and you may be a lot safer. Also keep an eye on the consumption of red wine (or any alcoholic beverage) for that is a proven trigger. Safe and judicious food and beverage choice during the holidays may go a long way towards avoiding migraine attacks.

So to sum up: try to remain as relaxed as you can, keep a regular sleep pattern, watch out for strong or new fragrances, and pick your food and beverage choices carefully. I know that is quite a lot to manage, but the season will be over before you know it. And if you made it migraine-free, or almost, bravo!