The holidays can challenge the estimated 30 million migraine sufferers in
the United States as they try to deal with crowds, travel delays, stress and
other potential headache triggers.
Even if you don't get the debilitating headaches, there's a good chance you
have loved ones who do. Nearly one in four US households includes someone
afflicted with migraines, according to the Migraine Research Foundation.
There are a number of ways to cope with migraines during the holidays, said
David Yeomans, director of pain research at the Stanford University School of
Along with knowing and trying to avoid your migraine triggers, you need to
be prepared to deal with a headache. Light sensitivity, changes in sleep
patterns, and certain foods and smells -- all common migraine triggers -- might
be harder to avoid during the holiday season.
What does an expert suggest?
"When you've got family over or are at a loved one's home, it can be
tricky to adjust your normal habit or routine," Yeomans said in a news
release. "What I often suggest is putting together an emergency migraine
kit just in case -- anti-inflammatory drugs, prescribed migraine medicine, an
eye mask or ear buds, and anti-nausea medication. Being prepared can perhaps save
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Family and friends may help solve the problem
It's also important for migraine sufferers to rely on their support network
of family and friends.
"Asking the host of the party or gathering if they have a quiet bedroom
or place to let the pain subside for awhile may not be a big deal if you make
sure they understand where you're coming from ahead of time," Yeomans
"You don't have to place so much stress on yourself worrying about
what others may think if you have a strong support system in place that is
flexible and understanding of your needs."
Cuddling may also work
Cuddling with loved ones can help too, he said.
"When you snuggle up to a loved one, your body naturally produces a
hormone called oxytocin, affectionately nicknamed the 'love hormone,'"
Yeomans said. "The remarkable ability of oxytocin to ward off pain is
still being explored, and there are treatments ... that are currently being
studied that utilize this hormone specifically for migraine pain."