10 Holiday Triggers to AvoidLast Updated:
The holidays can be full of potential migraine triggers. Trying to get in the “holiday spirit” can be difficult when you are on alert for all the dangers. Yet vigilant you must be if you want to lower the risk of spending all day in bed while your loved ones enjoy the party.
Here are just a few of the things to watch out for:
Alcoholic beverages can be a trigger for some migraineurs, 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 temperature in that air-tight plastic? It is 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 migraineurs 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. If your loved ones are willing, ask them 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 migraineurs as a strobe light. Stick to non-blinking lights and dark shades to protect your sensitive eyes from the flashing lights that others display.
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 migraineurs, the loud noises are even enough to trigger an attack. Keep a pair of earplugs or headphones handy to muffle those booms and shrills.
Going too long between meals causes drops in blood sugar that can trigger migraine attacks. Ideally, eating small frequent meals every 3-4 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 medicine doses
If you take regular medicines or supplements to prevent migraine attacks, it is essential to continue taking them on time throughout the holidays. It can be easy to forget, so set reminders or alarms on your phone and carry a full day’s worth of doses in your purse or pocket.
By committing yourself to avoid these potential triggers, you might discover that you are able to enjoy the celebration with your loved ones migraine-free.