Are Migraines Worse At Christmas?
The stress of Christmas is enough to give anyone a headache never mind if you normally suffer from migraines. During any time period where families get together to eat drink and be merry migraine triggers are aplenty. Spontaneous celebration and visits from friends replace normal daily routines.
Changing the pattern of your day increases the chances of having migraines significantly. The lead up to Christmas with work dos and pantomimes makes avoiding migraines almost impossible. If you are staying at someone else’s house over Christmas you may not have a quiet room to escape to.
You may have to consider planning Christmas around your migraines if they cause you a tremendous amount of discomfort. Being conscious of your normal migraine triggers may help you to avoid ones that arise during the holidays.
Migraines are still very much a mystery as no one really knows what causes them. Many people suffer from migraines and many working days are lost. Common triggers include; stress, hormonal changes, strong scents, bright lights, lack of sleep and certain foods. Most sufferers identify their triggers and avoid them. Keeping a diary of events leading up to migraines helps people to avoid or prepare for an attack. Getting into a routine that avoids possible triggers helps many sufferers to manage their condition. The lead up to Christmas disrupts these routines making migraines more likely.
Christmas migraines are no different to normal ones except that you may experience them more frequently. Most people have a warning when an attack is about to take place followed by either a migraine; without aura, without an aura or pain and an aura. Migraines usually occur on one side of the head and can last for a few hours or a few days. The aftermath is usually exhausting and draining so an attack is a long drawn out affair. At Christmas time the triggers are exactly the same but highly accentuated due to greater varieties of food, flowing alcohol, scented candles and highly perfumed guests. The shear stress of cooking dinner and being with people you love but wind you up chronically are enough to make you scarper to a darkened room.
Preventing migraines is better than trying to get rid of one so the first thing to do is to avoid triggers as much as possible. Most people have to resort to taking painkillers in order to alleviate symptoms. Some people cope with over the counter painkillers such as Ibuprofen and paracetamol. Medication containing opiates can be used sparingly to ease the pain but have a high risk of resulting in addiction.
The most commonly prescribed migraine treatment contains triptans which relax the blood vessels in the brain and relieve symptoms. It is important that triptans are taken during the onset of a migraine otherwise they will not work.
Other ways people control their condition include; eating and drinking regularly, having plenty of exercise and just accepting the pain and learning to live with it.
Whatever your triggers and treatments for attacks are, make sure that you have everything you need during the Christmas period to cope with an attack.
By Birpal Virdee (December 2017)