Holidays and Migraines

Happy Holidays! Happy New Year!

I used to have a migraine starting on December 1st and it would end around January 7th. I had a doctor explain it to me once.

STRESS+ALCOHOL+CHOCOLATE=MIGRAINE

Any one of them can trigger a migraine, the holidays usually bring all three. These day I do a little bit better, only have about 9 or 10.

The American Migraine Foundation has some great suggestions for getting through.

  • “Plan in advance: Make lists of everything you need to do, buy, pack or cook. If traveling, allow extra time to navigate airports and crowded highways. If possible, don’t shop during peak hours when stores are mobbed.
  • Don’t skip meals: Empty stomachs can spur headaches. If unable to follow your normal eating schedule, pack snacks. Avoid foods such as ripe cheeses, processed meats, and chocolate, which can cause headaches in susceptible people.
  • Avoid last-minute shopping: Winter coats, hot stores, long checkout lines, and looming Christmas deadlines can give even the most ardent shopaholic a tension headache. Don’t try to pack too much shopping into one day. Shop early, or consider online or catalog shopping.
  • Limit exposure to smoke or perfume-filled rooms: Both can trigger headaches. Find some fresh air.
  • If you drink, do so in moderation: Alternate alcoholic drinks with glasses of water. Avoid red wine, which contains an amino acid known to trigger headaches. Limit your alcohol intake in the hour or two before bedtime.
  • Schedule personal time: Many people try to pack too much holiday socializing into too little time. Don’t feel you must attend every holiday event to which you are invited. Give yourself a break and plan some down time. A few hours alone each week can reduce stress.
  • Maintain a regular sleep and eating schedule: Changes in either of these areas can bring on migraines.”

My family is incredibly supportive when it comes to migraines. My mom has them, and they all understand that sometimes I might need a few hours alone to wait for meds to work or sleep off a migraine. Some call migraines the “invisible illness” because it doesn’t exactly show up, like a rash. I also think it kind of makes you invisible, because you have to disappear for a while, absent from the table.

I find that planning and stress management are my two best friends during the holidays.

As always, let’s end on a positive note! I have two things for you today.
First this Washington Post article about the promising results from CGRP blocking drugs.
New drugs, decades in the making, are providing relief for migraines.

And second…OTTERS!! My new favorite go to cheer me up video.

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