Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Webinar Notes - Avoiding Holiday Headaches

I attended the holiday headaches webinar by the National Headache Foundation and I wanted to share my notes. A big thank you to Dr. Sylvia Lucas, the NHF and Merck & Co. (for sponsoring).

How to manage holiday headaches/migraines:
  • Identify your triggers (environmental, diet, stress, sleep, etc.) using a headache diary.
  • Avoid triggers you know, plus common triggers (sometimes it takes a combination of triggers to bring on a migraine).
  • Avoid disrupting normal sleeping and waking patterns – make sleep your #1 priority.
  • Social engagements expose you to smoke and perfume – get fresh air or try to move to an area that’s relatively clear. If you can’t get away, try breathing through a scarf (during a play for example).
  • If you must drink alcohol, alternate between alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, mix drinks with other fruit/vegetable juices, drink slowly, and avoid red wine.
  • Don’t skip meals; if unable to follow a normal eating schedule, at least have snacks – always keep snacks on hand (not salty though because they can lead to dehydration). Good options are fruit, peanut butter for protein, crackers, and nutrition bars (Kashi, Luna, etc.). For bars, check for those with the lowest sugar and highest protein.
  • Avoid ripe cheeses, processed meats and chocolate.
  • Schedule personal time to give yourself a break.
  • Traveling tips: plan in advance, be prepared for lines/long waits/traffic, and pack migraine meds.
  • Rest, exercise, ice/heat, massage, biofeedback.
From the Q&A session:

- Are there programs to help cover cost of migraine medications? See drug company Web sites for programs, coupons.
- What are ergotamine derivates? Cafergot, DHE, etc. – older than triptans but highly effective. Can cause nausea and the caffeine can cause trouble sleeping.DHE-45 is a good rescue drug (injectable).
- (One of my ?s) If I do a two-week rice diet, slowly adding foods back, is that healthy? It shouldn't cause harm but you may not need to do it a full two weeks. It's better to do it under a nutritionist's guidance.
- Can neck/shoulder tension cause migraine? 75% of migraine sufferers have neck/shoulder pain so it can be part of a migraine – many people think muscle tension is causing the migraine but that’s not the case.
- Can stress cause migraine? Headaches in stressful occurrences can be triggered by adrenaline/nervous system changes.

Hope these notes aren't too scattered or out of context.

I'm going to take a short break from all things computer, including this blog, so I want to go ahead and wish everyone a Merry Christmas!!!