The last thing you want when traveling for work or pleasure is a migraine.
Unfortunately, travel is a well-known migraine cause. According to the American Migraine Foundation, traveling can cause changes in sleep, weather, and nutrition, all of which are typical migraine triggers. Even the worry of getting to your location might cause a seizure; stress is a trigger for about 70% of migraine sufferers, according to the AMF. The good news is that there are several things you can take to avoid migraines when traveling.
Alina Masters-Israilov, MD, a neurologist at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, says, “I often urge patients to create a strategy that they can apply if they develop a migraine when they are away from home.” “This entails having effective drugs on hand, including their normal prescription as well as a rescue medication, as well as paying attention to any lifestyle changes they may face while away from home.” It is also critical to discuss any vacation plans with your doctor in order to be better prepared.”
1. Prepare ahead of time
Dr. Masters-Israilov recommends planning your schedule and pre-trip tasks ahead of time to avoid the stress that migraine headaches might generate. Prepare your bags at least one day ahead of time and leave enough time to arrive at your destination. The AMF also suggests taking breaks along the journey, especially if you’re driving, and planning for relaxation once you get to your destination.
When traveling, remember to take COVID-19 measures as well. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises wearing a well-fitting mask or respirator on enclosed public transportation, avoiding crowds wherever possible, washing your hands often, and staying up to date on vaccines and boosters.
2. Avoid potential hazards.
Migraine sufferers are typically sensitive to bright or flickering light, severe heat, and strong scents. Make every effort to prevent or reduce your exposure to such triggers. The AMF recommends bringing sunglasses, a sleep mask, and earplugs. Masters-Israilov recommends speaking with your doctor about drugs that might help you avoid pain during flights.
3. Drink plenty of water.
According to the AMF, dehydration is a trigger for one-third of migraine sufferers. Keep hydrated, especially if you’re traveling, spending time in hot weather, or doing strenuous physical activity like walking, skiing, or swimming. Carry a bottle of water with you whenever feasible, and minimize your use of diuretics.
4. Rest well.
According to the AMF, disrupting your normal sleep pattern can make you more susceptible to migraines, so try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule while you’re away. The AMF also recommends going to bed at the same time every night, aiming for seven to eight hours of sleep, and avoiding midday naps. Melatonin can help avoid jet lag and sleep disturbance when traveling, according to Masters-Israilov.
5. Eat properly.
One of the nicest parts of visiting new countries is sampling the local cuisine, but if you know that specific foods (chocolate, cheese, red wine, citrus, soy sauce, sugar, artificial sweeteners) tend to trigger your migraines, avoid them.
Also, keep track of how much coffee you consume (or do not drink). According to the AMF, increasing or decreasing caffeine intake might cause migraines. Migraines can also be caused by red wine and other forms of alcohol.
6. Don’t go overboard.
Whether you’re on a business trip, vacation, or visiting family or friends, you may be tempted to do as much as possible, but excessive activity, alcohol, and sweets might increase your chance of having a migraine, according to Masters-Israilov.
7. Look for non-smoking options.
According to the National Headache Institute, smoking and secondhand smoke can induce headaches, including migraines. Smoking is still permitted in many public and private venues when traveling overseas, including restaurants, bars, hotels, and businesses. Inquire about nonsmoking accommodations, rental vehicles, and rail and bus seats. Look for smoke-free restaurants or find a table in an outside location where the smoke will be less intense.
8. Don’t forget to bring your medicine.
“If you use any over-the-counter or prescription drugs to reduce migraine symptoms, bring them with you on your trip,” Masters-Israilov advises. She recommends keeping a dosage on hand for day travels in case you have a migraine when not using your hygiene. According to the AMF, taking migraine drugs more than 10 days per month might result in more migraine attacks. Consult your doctor about the safe removal of certain drugs from your system.
9. Keep an eye out for movement.
According to a paper published in Progress in Neurobiology, migraine sufferers are more susceptible to motion sickness. To avoid motion nausea when traveling, sit in the front seat of a car or bus, select a window seat on planes and trains, remain hydrated, and see a health care expert about motion sickness medication. dizziness, according to the CDC.
10. Be ready for a change in weather or elevation.
According to the AMF, if you’re traveling far enough away to encounter a climatic shift or dramatic weather change, be mindful that intense heat, humidity, or variations in barometric pressure might produce migraines. You are also at risk of migraines if you do deep-sea diving or skiing or snowboarding at high altitudes. If these are triggers for you, consider remaining home or avoiding specific activities.
Even if you take every care, you may have a migraine when traveling. If this occurs, spend some time alone and de-stressing till you feel better. And keep negative ideas at bay. Migraine pain does not have to spoil your entire trip. Traveling, in fact, may be beneficial in migraine management since it is a terrific method to alleviate stress, according to Masters-Israilov.
Travel, he explains, may either ease or aggravate migraines. This is frequently determined by the migraine triggers. Spending time in a different setting, for example, can help lessen migraine episodes if stress is a recurrent cause. When my patients travel, they often report feeling a lot better.”