4 Drug-Free Tips to Outsmart a Migraine this 4th of July

Free yourself from migraines this Independence Day with a little planning and non-invasive methods that won’t dampen your mood or impede upon your festivities

Cefaly® the first device of its kind to receive U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for the preventive treatment of migraine headaches wants all migraineurs to enjoy a safe, and migraine-free, 4th of July.

“A terrible migraine can dampen any holiday,” says Dr. Mark Harman, US Medical Director with CEFALY Technology. “We’d like any fogginess this Independence Day to be from the fireworks, not a side effect from medication.” Dr. Harman has compiled a list of helpful suggestions so migraineurs can tackle a migraine this 4th of July.

Be sure to read your prescriptions’ warnings! Many migraine medications pose a serious health risk when mixed with alcohol – something to keep in mind on a holiday known for its free-flowing spirits and nitrate-heavy backyard barbecues, all of which tend to trigger migraines. And while the large crowds, flashing lights, and loud bangs are all part of the fun, be mindful as they can also be part of the stress.

“It’s tricky to offer definitive guidelines because migraines are so idiosyncratic; what works for one person’s migraine might aggravate another’s,” explains Dr. Harman. “The key is to understand your migraines, so that you can apply guidelines to fit your unique situation.”

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Below Dr. Harman offers four helpful strategies for avoiding a migraine on this year’s celebration:

  1. Choose white wine (over red): “Red wine contains more histamine than white wine, which is hard for some people to easily metabolize. This can cause an enzyme insufficiency that can trigger a migraine,” says Dr. Harman. “Red wine also contains tannins, a textural element that creates the drying effect in the mouth. Tannins can boost serotonin, a chemical in the brain that is associated with feelings of happiness but can also trigger a migraine in some people.” Furthermore, the dryness can leave you feeling thirsty and if you quench your thirst with more wine, you end up dehydrated (another trigger for migraines). If you’re going to drink – be moderate. Use the Rule of Twos and limit your intake to two of any type of alcohol, and hydrate often. Dr. Harman also suggests watching what you eat. Barbequed meats, pickles, cheese, and processed foods containing monosodium glutamate (MSG) are common migraine triggers. If you know you’ll be tempted to snack on things that may be triggers for you, consider bringing your own migraine-friendly foods and keep your distance from the holiday spread.
  2. Back away from the meds: It’s one thing to take medications to help treat a migraine but it’s another to try to beat it to the punch. “Don’t load up on medications to try to avoid a migraine,” warned Dr. Harman. “It’ll only lead to a medication overuse headache.” Instead, plan well using these recommendations and wait to see if you get a migraine. Then, treat it as needed.
  3. Get consistent sleep: Sleep disturbances are widely reported among people who suffer from migraines. Try to get at least 6 hours sleep each night, Dr. Harman suggests. “Try to get uninterrupted, quality sleep, and keep it consistent; especially as the holiday nears. If you find your sleep patterns are consistently poor, see your doctor. You may have a sleep disorder that is exacerbating your migraines.
  4. Desensitize the trigeminal nerve: Current research tells us migraines stem from the part of the nervous system known as the trigeminal nerve. Several studies have also shown the FDA-approved device, Cefaly, can treat acute onset of migraines and help decrease the number of headaches migraineurs develop. This is done by sending tiny electrical impulses to the trigeminal nerve “resetting” the problem area. Clinical studies show using a Cefaly for 20-minutes a day can decrease the frequency of migraine attacks by as much as 54-percent. Equally important is it can also reduce medication intake by up to 75-percent, decreasing those bothersome side effects. Additionally, a 1-hour session with Cefaly reduced migraine pain for 85-percent of patients; and left 32-percent migraine-free.
    Loud noises, scents, and flashing lights are often thought to be triggers but they’re actually symptoms, Dr. Harman says. If you are finding them uncomfortable, it’s probable your migraine is already underway. “Try to find a work around: consider using earplugs, keep your distance from the grill, or wear tinted shades,” he recommends.
    So make some great memories this year and try to stay a step ahead of your migraines using these suggestions. If a migraine does develop, stabilize your environment and treat it as best you can.”

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