Migraines & Traveling

September 3rd, 2010

Chronic migraine sufferers often report an increase in their migraine activity when traveling. Coming down with a migraine is never fun and especially so, when you get one while away from home.

What is it about traveling that can cause migraine flare ups?

Traveling can cause the following changes that can increase the likelihood of getting a migraine:

* Temperature fluctuations
* Barometric pressure changes and cabin pressures during flying
* Humidity changes
* Altitude changes
* Exposure to smokers
* Motion sickness
* Dehydration
* Disrupted sleep patterns
* Increased consumption of alcohol
* Travel stress

Flying and the related changes in cabin pressurization can cause migraines in susceptible individuals. Conditions inside pressurized cabins are similar to being in high altitude locations of 5000 feet or more. Many migraine sufferers will get bad migraines when they go skiing because of this change in altitude.

If you know that flying causes you to get a migraine, then you may want to discuss with your physician following the advice of Dr. Fred Frietag, a migraine specialist. Dr. Freitag suggests trying the drug acetazolamide which is used to treat altitude sickness and helps to prevent migraines caused by flying. Dr. Freitag mentions that tingling or transient numbness may be side-effects of this drug.

We can’t do much about preventing temperature, barometric, humidity or altitude changes but we can anticipate them. So if you know the weather forecasts in the city (s) you are heading for and they reflect the changes above, be sure to BE PARTICULARLY GOOD AT THOSE THINGS YOU CAN CONTROL:

* Dress appropriately, don’t allow yourself to get too hot or too cold
* Stay hydrated – dehydration cases lots of migraines
* Keep to your regular sleep patterns as much as possible
* Lay off the alcohol as much as possible
* Plan to avoid smokers – some hotels and restaurants still allow smoking
* Limit your exposure to the sun and wear a big brimmed hat and polarized sunglasses
* Comfortable shoes reduce stress

Finally, it goes without saying; don’t forget to bring your medications with you. If you have chronic migraines, you hopefully are on a prevention program. To learn more about that see www.migrelief.com.

Here’s to pain-free travel,

Curt Hendrix M.S. C.C.N. C.N.S.

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