Here’s how to be prepared to prevent and treat migraines immediately.
It seems like you always have to modify your life to accommodate your migraines. You often miss important events or fun outings. When you’re invited out, your uncertainty takes over and you’re always stuck playing it safe, just in case. The truth is, there are ways to plan for (and around) migraine attacks without having to sacrifice your daily life.
Fear of Making Plans
Some people with migraines get in a cycle of avoiding plans. They might be afraid they're going to have a migraine when they're not prepared for it. Worse, they worry they’ll get a migraine at a terrible time, when they’re expected to give a speech at a big conference or teach a room of high school students. This can lead people to completely change their life around their disorder.
Making Plans for (and Around) Migraines
The best way to plan for migraines is to know how to prevent them at all times—and how to treat them quickly when they happen. This involves thinking ahead, anticipating migraine triggers, and carrying some essential items with you.
Try these tips to increase your confidence when it comes to making plans or living your daily life:
1. Know your triggers, and supply yourself with the tools to avoid them
If you know what your specific triggers are, sometimes you can be prepared for them. For example, dehydration and skipped meals are common triggers for people with migraines. If you wanted to go for a hike with friends, it would be wise to pack bottled water and snacks.
2. Adjust your treatment for predictable triggers
You might be more prone to migraines around certain times of the month or year. Some women have menstrual-related migraines, and some people have migraines from seasonal allergies. Your doctor may suggest altering your treatment around these times to help prevent these predictable triggers.
3. When you know you’ll be dealing with a trigger, be extra cautious to avoid other triggers
Triggers can often have a cumulative effect. You might be able to tolerate one trigger, but several triggers at once may push you over the edge. If you are making plans near the time of your menstrual cycle—and you know that’s a trigger for you—you might want to make extra effort to avoid any additional triggers.
This also means sticking to healthy, migraine-friendly habits, including:
- Good sleep hygiene
- Staying hydrated
- Exercising regularly
- Reducing stress
- Eating regular meals
Migraine Action Plans & How They Help
The best way to attack a migraine is to have many contingency plans. For this reason, it may help to equip yourself with a migraine action plan. This refers to a plan that provides a variety of different approaches on how to deal with your chronic episodes.
A migraine action plan might include things like what medication to take (and how much) when a migraine attacks at a particular time. This may give you confidence to make plans and get out of the safety of your house.
Who Can Help
If you feel that your migraine is interfering in your life, whether it be social events, family events, business, or school, then you need to reach out first to your primary care doctor. In some cases, your doctor may refer you to a specialist, such as a neurologist, who can help you get control of your migraines.
Noah Rosen, MD, is the director at the Northwell Health Headache Center.
- Seasonal Migraine Triggers. Mount Royal, NJ: American Migraine Foundation, 2016. (Accessed March 17, 2021)
- Tips for Avoiding Summer Migraines and Headaches. Mount Royal, NJ: American Migraine Foundation, 2016. (Accessed March 17, 2021)
- Preventive treatment of episodic migraine in adults. Waltham, MA: UpToDate. (Accessed March 17, 2021)