Ugh. Is there anything more to say? Fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, blurred vision and not to mention the mind-numbing headache pain. Take all of the above and add a 2-hour delay and/or a screaming baby in the row behind you and basically, you just want to die.
Ok, we'll go with the bad news first: there isn't a magic pill or single cure for migraines. The good news? There are lots of things you can do to minimize your risk of getting migraines and reduce symptoms when they occur (more on that later). *
What You Should Know About Migraines
- According to the Migraine Research Foundation, migraines are the third most prevalent illness in the world, affecting 1 billion people.
- 85% of migraine sufferers are women.
- More than 90% of sufferers are unable to work or function normally during their migraine.
Migraines occur in 4 phases:
One or two days before a migraine, you may notice warning signs such as mood changes, stiffness, constipation and/or neck stiffness.
Most people experience a migraine without the Aura phase, but symptoms of this phase include vision loss, pins and needles in your arms and legs, muscular weakness, and/or difficulty speaking.
When a migraine settles in, it can last anywhere from 4-72 hours. Symptoms during a migraine may include throbbing pain on one side or both sides of the head, sensitivity to light, sounds, smells and touch, nausea, vomiting and/or lightheadedness.
Once a migraine subsides, for the following 24 hours you may experience confusion, moodiness, dizziness and/or sensitivity to light and sound.
While a specific and exact cause of migraines has not yet been identified, migraine pain and symptoms occur because of abnormal neurological events that are related to changes in blood flow, nerve signaling, and muscle functions.
Migraine triggers may include:
- Certain Foods and Food Additives: Processed foods, dairy, gluten and food additives (like MSG)
- Alcohol and Caffeine: Alcohol (like wine) and highly caffeinated beverages (like energy drinks)
- Alcohol and Caffeine Withdrawal: If you are dependent on caffeine and/or alcohol, not having them for some time may act as a trigger
- Stress: Feeling overly anxious, rushed or nervous at home or at work or on the go
- Changes in Sleep Patterns: Jet lag and lack of sleep
- Skipping Meals: low blood sugar can be a trigger
- Overworking Your Eyes: too much screen time, put the phone/computer down
- Dehydration: in other words, drink more water
- Weather Changes: such as humidity or barometric pressure
- Hormonal Changes: for women, migraines are more likely to occur, just before or during menstruation.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
At the Airport
Pack along healthy snacks that are full of omega 3's, electrolytes and magnesium.
Almonds, pumpkin seeds, figs, dates and bananas are some great options for traveling. I love shopping at Thrive Market to stock up on goodies before a flight (plus is a lot cheaper than buying at the airport).
At the Hotel
Do some easy yoga and stretching. Or better yet, get some good, old-fashioned sleep. Put down the iPhone, don't bother with the germ-infested Hotel TV remote and shut-down the laptop. Crawl into some comfy clothes, have a glass of water by your bedside and get snuggly.
On the Airplane
Whether I have a migraine or not, I always carry these 3 things with me on a flight for whenever a need a mini-escape or just plain had a rough day.
1. Aromatherapy Roll-Ons - I love the ones featured below, but anything that brings you joy is good to have along for the ride. Peppermint, Lavender, and Eucalyptus are especially soothing for migraines. We have lots of these available on our store here.
2. Eye Mask - This is an essential for me, especially on a plane when they turn the lights on and off with no warning. I love this Merino Travel Kit by Parachute.
3. Water Bottle - this is essential to bring your own. You'll have it whenever you need and you don't need to worry about drinking out of a plastic cup. I like these Alex Bottles.