Christmas is just around the corner and we’re more than excited about the most wonderful time of the year. We have so many festive activities planned with our nearest and dearest, but we must admit we are slightly concerned about migraines ruining our plans, especially since its us mums and dads who have the extra special task (and pressure) of really making the festive season happen.
There’s nothing worse than a migraine attack, especially on a day that was meant to be spent baking Christmas cookies, watching Home Alone and wrapping our family’s gifts.
Nine out of ten people with chronic migraine live in fear of their next attack.1 This is unsurprising when you consider they experience more than fifteen headache days per month.² To make matters worse, migraine doesn’t just affect the sufferer. In the results of a survey published by Novartis
, eight out of ten Irish people with frequent and severe migraine said their relationships with family and friends were significantly impacted by the condition.1
The first step for many patients with migraine is to receive the correct diagnosis if the condition is undiagnosed. But in the meantime, if you or a loved one suffer from chronic migraine, here are some simple tips and actions that can help you to get through this festive season:
1. Pace yourself
This time of year is absolutely manic, but pace yourself. You don’t need to stress yourself out by rushing around from shop to shop. It’s a time to be spent with your family and friends so don’t put yourself under too much pressure by fretting about the silly things. Invest in some me-time amongst your festive plans.
2. Keep to a planned daily routine
This is easier said than done but try to eat regularly and don’t have too many late nights. If you do have festive nights out planned for December, try to separate them out.
3. Drink water
Sure, all we want to drink is mulled wine and hot cocoa but drinking water is a must if you suffer from migraines. Dehydration leads to tiredness and fatigue, which can prompt an attack so make your best effort to carry fluids with you at all times.
4. Be prepared
Migraine attacks can strike at any time. If you are taking medication on the advice of your doctor, make sure to have your meds on your person for all holiday outings.
5. Keep on top of nausea
Keep a stash of ginger-flavoured sweets nearby to help with nausea. Find out what works for you, be it chewing parsley or sucking a boiled sweet, and carry these around in your bag- you’ll be glad you did.
6. Know your triggers: Noise and Light
For some people, loud noises and flashing lights can worsen or even trigger migraines. Since this describes almost every Christmas activity, try to keep an eye out for dark, quieter areas, where you may be able seek out a calmer environment, especially if you are hitting the town. Don’t belittle yourself if you have to skip plans because of a migraine. Remember that your health should always be your top priority, no matter what time of the year. Missing out on the Christmas fun is disappointing but if you feel like you need to rest and recuperate then do what is best for you.
7. Know your triggers: Smells
From the aroma of Christmas candles to perfumed beauty halls, the holidays are filled with strong odours than can be difficult to avoid. If smells are a trigger, an essential oil such as peppermint or eucalyptus can help to block them out, always use as directed. Plus they can double up as relief for sore neck muscles during an attack.
8. Know your triggers: Food
Identify potential dietary triggers. Start keeping a migraine diary now, and see if you can identify particular foods that trigger your migraine and make an effort to avoid these foods during the holidays.
Migraine diaries are available through the Migraine Association of Ireland or by downloading the free Migraine Buddy app. Other supports and resources are available on www.speakyourmigraine.ie
or from the Migraine Association’s website www.migraine.ie
. Make sure you talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any concerns about migraine management.
1Results are from a large-scale global patient and caregiver survey undertaken by Novartis in 2017 in partnership with the European Migraine and Headache Alliance. A total of 10,235 people in 36 countries participated. In Ireland, the survey involved 131 participants who were recruited from online panels and the patient organisation, the Migraine Association of Ireland who completed an online survey between September 2017 and February 2018. To participate patients must have had four or more migraine days each month within the previous three months.