Posts Tagged ‘stress’

Headaches for the Holidays

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013



Does the holiday season make it more difficult to manage migraine headaches? Many migraineurs dread the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.  Between the flashing lights, heady colognes, migraine-triggering foods, and holiday expectations, it’s enough to turn anybody into a Grinch.

Headaches for the Holidays

Recently, the National Headache Society* asked, “What aspect of the holidays is hardest for you?” (See their Facebook page.)

Overwhelmingly, most replied that their holiday worries revolve around friends and family. Some feel that spending too much time with estranged family members is an unnecessary form of torture, while others wax nostalgic over holidays spent with mothers or fathers who have since passed on.

Not surprisingly, stress and other migraine triggers play a huge part during the months of November and December; more so than the rest of the year.

Here are some of the most popular responses to the NHS’s questions about migraine headaches during the holidays.

*Note: The National Headache Society has no affiliation with Migravent.

Holiday parties

While others are tripping the light fantastic, you may be stumbling over yourself just to get out of the room before your head explodes. Migraines make it difficult to be in a crowded room; add loud holiday music, mingling perfumes, food scents, and glaring fairy lights, and what you have is a recipe for the perfect storm.

Avoiding Migraine Triggers- Here, There and Everywhere

What is it about holiday parties that make life so unbearable for migraine sufferers?

  • Having to put on a happy face when I feel like screaming
  • Pretending I’m not suffering
  • Feeling guilty about turning down party invitations for fear of migraine attacks
  • Stress of hosting a party with a headache
  • Always being “on”
  • Not being able to rest in a dark room with an ice pack, for fear of being unsociable
  • New Year’s eve drinking


Most migraineurs responded that their migraine attacks have a strong impact on their family relationships, especially during the holiday season.

  • My martyr husband who steps in and heroically makes all the necessary preparations for the holidays- shopping, cooking, cleaning- without once complaining.
  • My in-laws are always amazed that I’ve “still got that headache,” months after our last visit.
  • Often, taking care of family members who are ill is a much harder task during this season.


An astonishing percentage of migraine sufferers also experience chronic depression. Feelings of loneliness and despair are magnified during these months, when it seems like everybody else is out having the perfect Dickensian Christmas, and you’re the odd one out.

5 Effective Natural Supplements for Depression

  • During family get-togethers, I excuse myself to sit in my room with an ice pack, while the party goes on without me.
  • I miss people more during this time of year.
  • Thanksgiving is often a reminder of special people who have moved away or died.

Stress and anxiety

Stress is the number one migraine trigger any time of the year. During the winter months, worries and anxieties seem to multiply.

  • I worry that I’ll get a migraine and won’t be able to enjoy my family visits.
  • I’m afraid I’ll mess up Thanksgiving dinner.
  • New Year’s just reminds me that I have nothing to look forward to expect another year of constant migraine headaches.

How many of these responses regarding migraine headaches during the holiday season can you identify with? Do you have any you would like to add? What’s your strategy for coping with migraines during the winter months?

Also read:

Are Migraines Really Triggered by Stress?

Managing your Mood with Migraines: 4 Simple Surefire Tips for Happiness

Image courtesy of stockimages

Is it Migraine or Tension Headache? Comparison Chart

Thursday, November 21st, 2013



Do you always know if your headaches are from tension or migraine? Both can occur from extreme stress and fatigue. To prevent rebound headache and find the best treatment possible, it’s important to know exactly what’s causing your headache to begin with. Here is a handy chart to help you understand the difference between migraine headaches and tension headaches.

Is it Migraine or Tension Headache? Comparison Chart

Quick reference

  • Tension headaches, on the other hand, are primarily caused by stress and fatigue. Headaches from tense muscles are much easier to treat than migraines, as they respond to medication much better.
  • Migraines are a neurological disorder causing a vast array of symptoms, including debilitating head pain that last for hours, sometimes days. In addition, sufferers experience tiredness, nausea, stomach pain, dizziness, and the need to vomit.

Pain type

Tension headache: Dull pressure, the sensation of a band strapped tightly across the head or neck. Pain is mild or moderate.

Migraine: Throbbing, intense pounding on one side of the head, often at the temple or eye areas. Pain is moderate to extreme, making it difficult to concentrate or think about anything else.

Location of pain

Tension headache: Scalp, forehead, neck, temples.

Migraine: Temples, eyes.

Pain duration

Tension headache: Pain increases and subsides over the course of the day, or for several days.

Migraine: Headache comes on strong, stays intense for hours. For people with chronic migraines, headaches return repeatedly- more than 15 times per month.

Comorbid symptoms

Tension headache: Insomnia, neck stiffness, stress.

Migraine: Sensitivity to lights (photophobia), scents, and noise; nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, vertigo, distorted speech, partial paralysis, feebleness, loss of consciousness, visual distortions.


Tension headaches: Stress, tiredness, bad posture, eye strain, hunger.

Migraine: Food ingredients, scents, noise, bright lights, weather, allergies, air pressure, stress, tension headaches, hunger, irregular sleep patterns, dehydration, cigarette smoke, hormonal fluctuations.

Warning signs

Tension headache: None.

Migraine: Prodrome phase that occurs hours before, causing symptoms such as euphoria, olfactory hallucinations, unusual cravings, and edginess. Minutes before, some migraineurs experience aura- strange visual disturbances and stroke-like symptoms.

Migraine Aura and Prodrome- What’s the Difference?


Most headache sufferers- from tension type and migraine combined- are female.


Tension headache: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are usually sufficient to get rid of a tension headache, although it may take a few days.

Migraine: There are many different types of migraines, so only your doctor can prescribe the best possible course of treatment for symptoms of migraine attacks.

There is no cure for migraine illness, but by using daily migraine preventative treatments, many are able to thwart off the majority of migraine headaches and symptoms of nausea, dizziness, and fatigue.

Popular natural herbs and vitamins for migraine help include PA-free butterbur root, magnesium, riboflavin, and coenzyme Q10.

Also read:

Migraine Auras without Headache: Silent Migraines

Dealing with Nausea and Vomiting with Migraines

Abdominal Migraines- Because Migraines Are Not Always In Your Head!

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici

Are High Heeled Shoes to Blame for your Migraine Headaches?

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Candidate Michele Bachmann says, Yes

Ga-Ga-sized heels are all the rage, but at what cost to your physical and neurological well-being?


Migraine headaches are a leading cause for disability

Migraine headache illness debilitates millions of sufferers, most of whom are woman, every year.  For many, migraine attacks keep them at home and out of work, school, and social engagements.  Migraine symptoms such as throbbing head pain, nausea, vomiting, visual impairments, and speech difficulties make it difficult, if not impossible, for migraine patients to hold down a job.

Nevertheless, Republican candidate Michele Bachmann assures her supporters for the upcoming Presidential Election of 2012 that she has her chronic migraines under control.  Although she has required emergency treatment on several occasions for chronic migraine attacks, Ms. Bachmann has declared that migraine medications keep her condition stabilized, and that her “uncomfortable high-heeled shoes” were to blame for most of her head pain.

“Can wearing high-heeled pumps trigger migraine headaches?” ask experts.

Are High Heeled Shoes to Blame for your Migraine Headaches?

Well, it’s no secret that wearing spikey heels promotes bad posture.  According to Spine-Health, poor posture distorts the natural curve of the spine, contributing to “back and neck pain, as well as headaches, fatigue, and possibly even concerns with major organs and breathing.”

Sacrificing comfort for fashion is one thing, but sacrificing your mental and physical health for a really cute pair of Jimmy Choo’s is beyond normal comprehension.

Which came first- the power heels or the migraines?


Still, not all health experts agree.  Dr. Joel Saper, founder and director of the Michigan Headache and Neurological Institute in Ann Arbor, thinks it’s more likely that the correlation exists between migraine headaches and stress; for a career woman struggling to earn the respect of her peers, leather high-heeled shoes are just par for the course.

And for Michele Bachmann, who hopes to win a male-dominated political campaign, even recurring flashes of migraines won’t keep her from rising to new heights.

Also read:

The Four Phases of Migraine Headache Attacks

10 Unusual Chronic Pain Relief Tactics for the Bedridden

Slash your Migraine Medication Budget- 8 Ways to Save Money


What Migraines? New Yorkers Defend Their High Heels –

High Heels Cause of Michele Bachmann’s Migraines? – ABC News

Can High Heels Trigger Migraines? – TIME Healthland

Good Posture Helps Reduce Back Pain

Top 10 Headache Symptoms that Point to Migraines

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Do you know the difference between migraine headaches and common headache symptoms? If you experience head pain often, it’s important to know if you are suffering from chronic migraines, which may warrant a trip to the emergency room.

Tension headaches

Tension headaches are the most common, and they are caused by constricted muscles in the shoulders, neck and head; neck pain often accompanies a tension headache.


Migraines, however, are a neurological disorder, and are caused by engorgement of the blood vessels. There is a high correlation between stroke, heart attack and chronic migraine patients. Migraine Sufferer to World: It’s not just a Headache, People!

If you experience any of these migraine symptoms with your headaches, please visit a neurologist immediately:

1) Head pain: Migraine head pain can occur on either side of the head, or on both sides at once, and the severity can alternate between moderate and excruciating. Pain duration can last anywhere from 4 to 72 hours. 7 Headache Categories:Which Type of Headache do you Have?

2) Throbbing or palpitating: Migraineurs often describe their symptoms as intense, pulsating waves of pain; this is caused dilated blood vessels, which allow unrestricted blood flow to the brain, creating the characteristic throbbing sensation. Migraine Pop Quiz: How Well do you Understand your Headaches?

3) Stomach upset: Migraine patients often complain of severe stomach problems during a migraine attack. Nausea, abdominal cramps, vomiting and diarrhea are all common migraine headache symptoms.

4) Alternating between hot and cold: Hot and cold flashes occur as a result of poor circulation. Patients may have cold feet at times.

5) Light sensitivity: A particularly debilitating side effect of chronic migraines is the intense pain caused by bright lights, stark white surfaces and contrasting patterns of black and white. For this reason, severe migraine headache patients require a very dark room in order to recuperate from an attack. Migraines Caused by Eye Strain? Tinted Glasses can Help

6) Interference with daily life: Regular activities that most people take for granted can become practically impossible for people who get frequent migraines. Driving to work, shopping for groceries, celebrating a birthday party- all these things get put on hold when a migraine threatens to storm. Migraine Pain, Portrayed through Art and Poetry

7) Fatigue: Stress, chronic pain, inactivity, feelings of depression- all these combine to create mental exhaustion. Is Gluten Sensitivity Giving You a Headache?

8) Auras: Auras are a phenomenon which herald an advancing migraine. Symptoms of migraine auras are flashing, darting light hallucinations, blind spots, blurred vision, nausea and dizziness. Auras can occur before the headache, or arrive at the same time. Migraines with Aura may Signal Birth Defect in Heart

9) Fever: It’s not usual for a fever to accompany a migraine, but it is not unlikely, either.

10) Feebleness: After several years, chronic migraines can leave one feeling frail, disconsolate and weary. Unless an effective migraine treatment is sought out, long-term migraine relief is not possible.

Get help for your migraines. Below is a list of valuable information about migraine medications, coping mechanisms and support groups:

10 Clues your should Include in your Headache Diary Today

Top 20 Websites for Migraine Headache Patients

Top 4 Headache Treatments