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When Your Migraine Triggers Worsen During the Holidays

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Migraines are a b*tch any time of the year. But this time of year, when you throw in weather changes and holiday madness, you just add to the intensity and frequency of these horrible life-robbers.

When it comes to migraines, rarely do two people share the same triggers. These triggers, also called precipitating factors, can vary depending upon the time of year.

I tend to have them more frequently this time of year. And I blame the following:

Weather Changes

Unfortunately, this is something we don’t have control over. But we can choose whether we travel in it or not. So, if you don’t handle warm weather well because of the dryness, or cold weather because of the wetness, then don’t travel to those destinations.


This is my biggest trigger. When I am overwhelmed or am being pulled in various directions, that’s when my migraine sets in. Sometimes it comes with an aura. Mine is the faint sighting of black birds flying by. I don’t see actual birds, but I do see something flickering as it flies by.


We tend to cook more this time of year. Those delicious smells wafting through the air, as enticing as they may be, can also bring on a migraine and its counterpart, nausea. Scented candles are also something we can do without. Even those that smell like apple pie and sugar cookies.


Long lines equal lots of people. Lots of people equal lots of voices. Mix that with whiffs of perfume and cigarette smoke, and you have the recipe for a migraine.


The biggest thing I love about Christmas is all the twinkling lights. However, I recently had to retire an angel because watching her move her arms while holding candle lights was too much for me. It induced dizziness and nausea.


Though I love my parents, I don’t get to see them as often as I’d like. For one, the drive mixed with the difference in altitude induces a headache, which leads to a migraine. And sometimes I get a double whammy and have one on the return trip. So, decide if it’s worth putting yourself through that trip to visit friends and family. Because a migraine is not just a headache.


Sleep is a must-have for those with migraines. But too much or too little can also be a trigger. And as hard as it may be, you have to find a happy balance.


I guess you can say I’ve been lucky not to have any food or beverage triggers. But I do crave salty potato chips and chocolate right before a migraine. When my family notice me reach for these, they let out a collective, “Oh no.” They know it’s only hours before I’m in bed with the curtains drawn and the lights out.

Dry Eyes

This past year I had more migraines than usual. I chalked it up to stress and computer strain. Then I went to the eye doctor and found out I had such dry eyes that my corneas have begun to get scratched. Now I use drops four or more times a day, which has led to a decrease in the migraines.

Here’s a little helpful hint in your attack against migraines: keep a migraine journal nearby. Mine is beside the bed. Note the date and time of your migraine. Any warning signs. Location, intensity, and type of pain. If you have any accompanying symptoms. What medications you take and their effect. Note any important or stressful events that occurred leading up to the migraine.

As you head out to tackle your holiday and your migraine, I’d like to wish my fellow migraineurs a wonderful holiday season that is as pain-free as possible.

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Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: December 7, 2016
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