The holidays can be risky for people living with Migraine. Getting in the “holiday spirit” includes careful attention to these holiday Migraine triggers. We want to be present for all the fun, yet must be cautious. One too many holiday Migraine triggers can send us to bed for the day while our loved ones enjoy the party. Here are just a few of the things to watch out for:
- Holiday beverages
Alcoholic beverages can be a trigger for some, especially red wine because it contains tyramine. Some other beverages can be problematic, too. Anything with high levels of caffeine, artificial sugar, or artificial coloring can set off a nasty series of attacks. To minimize this risk, limit your caffeine intake to once a day at the same time and stick with all-natural beverages such as juice, milk, and lots of water the rest of the day.
- Summer Sausage gift boxes
Have you ever wondered how meat can be preserved at room temperatured in that air-tight plastic? It’s possible, in part, because of preservatives known as nitrates and nitrites. Among other health problems, these chemicals commonly trigger Migraine attacks. It’s best to stick with fresh foods in their natural state.
- Tins of flavored popcorn
Caramel, cinnamon, cheese, and many other gourmet flavors are packed full of additives and preservatives, not to mention way too much sodium. It’s safer to stick with popping your own. Season it with real butter and a little sea salt to avoid another Migraine attack.
Food that is left to sit out at room temperature for several hours can begin to break down, increasing its tyramine content. Leftovers that are several days old can also contain high levels of tyramine. Headache specialists recommend Migraine patients limit their intake of foods high in tyramine in order to avoid this common trigger.
- Late-night parties and all-night gift wrapping marathons
If you have Migraine, disrupting your sleep schedule is one of the bigger risks. Studies have shown that even minor changes in your sleep routine can set you up for more Migraine attacks. Plan ahead so you can stick to your schedule.
- Scented candles, pinecones, & potpourri
Some people can tolerate limited exposure to naturally-scented candles. However, most candles and potpourri are perfumed-scented. For the most part, it is best to avoid these whenever possible. Ask loved ones to refrain from burning these types of candles and use live plants rather than perfume-drenched dried ones during celebrations.
- Bright, flashing lights
Whether it’s the rhythmic flash from lights on the tree or your neighbor’s outdoor lights, flashing lights can have the same effect on us as a strobe light. Stick to non-blinking lights and dark shades that protect sensitive eyes from the flashing lights that others display.
- Loud music
During a Migraine attack, our hearing is very sensitive. Sounds are magnified to the point of being painful. These loud noises definitely make an ongoing attack feel much worse. For some of us, the loud noises are even enough to trigger an attack. Keep a pair of earplugs or headphones handy to muffle those booms and shrills.
- Irregular meals
Going too long between meals causes drops in blood sugar that can trigger Migraine attacks. Ideally, eating small frequent meals every three to four hours. This can be challenging during the holidays with all the decorating, shopping, and party planning. Plan ahead by stocking up on healthy, high protein snacks that will keep your glucose levels nice and steady far into the next year.
- Missing medication doses
It’s essential to continue taking our Migraine preventives time throughout the holidays. It’s easy to forget during busy activities of the holidays. Setting alarms on our phones may help us stay on schedule. Carrying a full day’s worth of doses in our purse or pocket may also help us stick to the routine when we’re not at home.
By committing ourselves to avoiding these 10 holiday Migraine triggers, we might just be able to enjoy the celebration with our loved ones Migraine-free.