The National Headache Foundation recommends the following to avoid those holiday headaches:
1. Maintain your regular sleep schedule. Those late night parties can play
havoc with anyone's health, and especially impact those with chronic
headaches and migraine. Try to go to sleep and awaken at the same time
each day. Don't skip on your sleep - make sure you get your regular
amount of sleep - 8 hours would be perfect.
2. Maintain your regular meal schedule. Too often, we skip or miss meals as
we travel from mall to mall, or are cooking/cleaning in preparation for a
big celebration. If you can't stop for a regular meal, how about packing
3. Moderation is the key to avoid those "hangover" headaches. If you opt for
that festive cocktail, sip your drink slowly. Mixed drinks containing
fruit or vegetable choices (think Bloody Mary) may have less negative
effects than straight alcohol. For migraine sufferers, red wine is a
well-known culprit so a glass of white wine is preferable.
4. Watch that diet!!! Offerings at those holiday parties may look delicious
but may contain foods that trigger headaches such as ripened cheese,
chocolate, and processed meats. Some sensitive individuals should avoid
food items containing MSG or low-cal beverages with aspartame. Monitor
your caffeine intake and avoid or limit colas, coffee, and tea. The cold
weather may encourage stopping for a hot cocoa but think twice before
5. As you sprint through those crowded stores, be aware of odors that may
produce a headache. Those perfume scents wafting through the air may
trigger a headache, and some unfortunate individuals may be sensitive to
the smell of pine boughs and balsam trees. With the introduction of no
smoking ordinances, public places may be safer if you are sensitive to
tobacco smoke. However, private parties may be a haven for smokers,
particularly those enjoying a celebratory cigar. Your best bet is to find
an area free of smoke and perfume.
6. If you are traveling, make sure you have sufficient amounts of your
headache medicine. Weather and crowds may delay your travel, and you do
not want to find yourself without your prescription medications on
Christmas or New Years Day. For those who experience headaches when
traveling by plane or vacationing in mountainous regions, discuss the
situation with your health care provider. Preventive remedies are
available to avoid the "altitude" headache.
7. It would be easy to say avoid stress but that would be a gargantuan task
at this time of the year. To help maneuver through the holidays, set
aside personal time. If you feel you have had more than adequate "family
togetherness," take a walk or just take a break from the festivities.
Organize your schedule for shopping, cooking, cleaning, and "me" time.
The National Headache Foundation (NHF) exists to enhance the healthcare of individuals with headache. It is the premier educational and informational resource for individuals with headache, their families, health care providers who treat them, and to the public. The NHF accomplishes its mission by providing educational and informational resources, supporting headache research, and advocating for the understanding of headache as a legitimate neurobiological disease.
For information on headache causes and treatments, or for a list of physicians in your area who treat headache, please visit www.headaches.org or call 1-888-NHF-5552.
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