As if the pressure of the upcoming beach party in your not-quite-bathing-suit-ready body isn’t enough, you are dreading the likelihood of triggering your chronic migraines once you get there. This is completely understandable after all, since beaches (and large gatherings) are rife with sensory and even emotional irritants, which can be overwhelming for someone who suffers with migraines.
Planning ahead with some drug free migraine tactics will increase your chance of enjoying the big summer of 2014 beach debut!
- Sun – According to the National Headache Foundation’s magazine Headwise, light sensitivity, or photophobia, affects up to 88 per cent of migraine sufferers. And, sunlight is the top light-related trigger. The beach is particularly risky for those of you with chronic migraines and sun sensitivity, since sand and sea reflect the sun’s rays from all angles. A large beach umbrella, sunglasses and a wide brimmed hat can help shield you from being bombarded with these ‘migraine-lasers’.
- Smells – If you know that perfumes, potpourri and household cleaners send you into migraine despair, use scent free suntan lotion and let your buddies know they are welcome to share since their coconut-papaya-tutti-frutti oil will rub you the wrong way.
- Noise – Be prepared and strategic and don’t be a spoilsport. Bring your own noise cancelling ear buds or headphones, and try to commandeer the spot-picking process. Setting up camp away from the water will keep you far from squealing toddlers. Pick your beach neighbors with great care, because there are no fences and walls for the entire day.
- Alcohol – Nope. None. Avoiding alcohol is a major drug free migraine tool. At the beach, under the sun and in the heat, nasty effects from alcohol will only be worse. Stick to ice water or iced herbal tea if you hope to make it through the day headache free.
- Stress – We aren’t suggesting your friends and planning a beach day are ‘bad’ stress. However, for many migraine sufferers, any increased emotional stimulation can be enough to set off a chain of internal events that trigger an attack. So, try to relax and pace yourself. Nobody said you have to be the first to arrive and the last to leave. Know when to pack it in. And of course, we know about the ‘let-down’ headache. So even if you make it through the beach day, if the experience was over stimulating, you just may be in for an evening of misery afterward.
Now that you’ve found the perfect bathing suit, and dieted through spring all you need to do is gather your drug fee migraine tools and pack them into your beach bag. While you may not feel up to beaching it every day, know that chronic migraines don’t have to keep you away from good times, surf and sand this summer.
When you are on your own, choose quiet times to visit the beach, like early morning and evening to catch the sunrise and sunset in peace and quiet. The best part is that you will get to miss all of your triggers.