Category: Migraine

How to Avoid a Holiday Headache

The holidays are an exciting time for many. Filled with social gatherings, gift-giving, and delicious food, the holiday season can also be filled with migraine triggers. To ensure you don’t get a holiday headache, we sat down with Attending Neurologist and DENT Headache Specialist, Dr. Shivang Joshi, who shared his tips for navigating the holiday season headache free. 

1. What is a migraine trigger ?

“A trigger is anything that can bring on a migraine for a patient, and it can vary from person to person,” said Dr. Shivang Joshi.  “Triggers are difficult to study; sometimes a known trigger won’t bring on a migraine. However, a combination of triggers might.”

Common migraine triggers include:

  • stress
  • hormonal
  • skipping meals
  • weather changes
  • poor sleep
  • perfume
  • odors
  • neck pain
  • food.

Additionally, foods containing nitrates or MSG and red wine, may be also be a trigger for some.

2. How can people identify their triggers?

“Paying attention to common triggers and seeing how they affect your individual migraine can help,” said Dr. Joshi. Dr. Joshi added that keeping a headache diary can also be helpful, especially to identify hormonal related headaches. 

3. What migraine triggers would you expect to increase during the holiday season ?

“The holiday season can be a busy time and it can be stressful if you have to travel or host an event,”said Dr. Joshi.

“During the holidays you can expect stress, poor sleep, alcohol, food (especially food containing preservatives or tyramine) to be common triggers.

4. What advice would you give to people to cope with that increase?

“Being prepared will help you cope better with trigger induced migraines. Most migraine medications are more effective when you take them at the onset, so make sure to keep them close by.”

Dr. Joshi also stressed 5 ways you can prepare for the increase in triggers:

  • Keep to your regular routine as much as possible
  • Stay Hydrated
  • Avoid sensory overload
  • Utilize Stress management techniques 
  • Only consume alcohol in moderation

5. If a trigger is unavoidable what can you do?

There are several triggers that are unavoidable, such as weather changes or hormonal changes. “It is important to not have anxiety over what you cannot control. Preparedness is key,” said Dr. Joshi. “If your medications are not helping, contact your migraine specialist and inquire about other options to break a headache cycle.” 


The content of this post is intended for general educational and informational purposes only; it does not constitute medical advice.  Readers should always consult with a licensed healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment.