Taking Your Migraine On Holiday- By Professor Paul Booton
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Farewell from Heather Sim
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Taking Your Migraine On Holiday
By: Professor Paul Booton
The sad truth is, wherever you go, your migraine goes with you. Holidays and holiday travel can be particularly problematic for migraine sufferers but there is plenty you can do to minimise the problem. Here are our top tips for travel.
1. Be prepared. Make sure you have enough medication to cover your whole trip. Ask your GP for extra rather than risk running out. Don’t leave asking until the last minute: GPs are under huge pressure and need adequate time to deal with your request.
2. Pick your time.
- Try to avoid travelling on dates when you are more likely to have an attack if this is possible.
- International travel, seen as glamorous, is a miserable business. You get up at 2 AM, sit for 3 hours in the small hours under the glare of strip lights, and finally sit on a plane with lights going on and off and no semblance of your normal routine. It is worth trying to find flights which go at sensible times a day so that at least that part of your routine isn’t disturbed.
3. Take supplies on the plane. Make sure you have enough of your medication with you in your hand luggage. Also take your own supply of water and snacks so you don’t rely on airline catering which may not suit you. Take an eye mask or really dark sunglasses so you can give yourself some night time when necessary.
4. Try to set some sort of routine. International travel throws your routine all over the place. Try to impose a routine which is midway between home and where you are going to. During the flight eat regularly (whether airline meals or your own food), drink plenty of water and take care with alcohol. Invent a night time when you will sleep whether or not this fits the airlines plans-an eye mask and possibly sleeping tablets may help.
5. Don’t be afraid to medicate.
- As always with migraine early medication is much more likely to be successful medication. If you feel an attack beginning hit it hard and hit it quick. Try to get some sleep afterwards, which can often relieve an attack.
- You are vulnerable to attacks especially during the early days of the holiday. Have your medication to hand and use it at the first sign of an attack. You probably will need more medication at this period but don’t worry if you are using it more often than usual. Take what you need to get you through the bad spell and don’t worry about things like medication overuse headache – that takes several months to develop.
6. Give yourself some downtime. You’ve been planning a holiday for months, gone berserk trying to get work and family organised and finally you’ve arrived. Unfairly, relaxation can be as much a trigger as stress, and this is a very vulnerable time for attacks. Try to have a quiet first couple of days when you can get into a new routine, drink plenty of fluids and eat decent food. Don’t try to hit the art museum and the roller theme park on day one.
7. Use a short-term preventative. Especially if you know you’re a bad traveller consider taking a short term preventative medication. Naproxen or Mefenamic acid taken from a few days before you leave until a few days after you’ve arrived will help prevent attacks. However they are not a substitute for taking proper care of yourself and your triggers. If you are taking one of these drugs (which are part of the NSAID aspirin-ibuprofen family) don’t take any others of these at the same time. That may mean you rely on triptans over this period for any attacks.
8. Going home. Exactly the same rules apply going home. All your schedules are put out by the flight and on arrival there is pressure to get back to routine or yourself back to work etc etc. Use the above advice when you’re travelling for coming home. Try to pick the least disruptive travel times. Consider taking a day or 2 at home before you go back to work to give yourself time to organise and time for rest without it all being horribly pressured.
9. Above all have a great time!
Some of our patients have alerted us to an ongoing problem with difficulties in obtaining their prescribed triptans. We are still awaiting some information, however the information so far is as follows:
Sumitriptan – there was a supply issue a few months ago, this is now resolved and you should not experience any problems.
Zolmitriptan – they are out of stock at the supplier. Full supply expected from the end of August.
Rizatriptan – there is an issue with insufficient supply from the manufacturer (MSD), is only available via AAH (pharmacy supplier) phone number, 0844 561 8899.
We will continue to investigate the Rizatriptan issue together with availablity of Naratriptan, Almotriptan, Eletriptan & Frovatriptan, we will post updates on the news section of the website and message via Twitter, Facebook & Health unlocked.
Want to see a headache specialist?
If you are suffering from migraines or cluster headache and would like to see one of our headache specialists you can either call us on 020 7251 3322 or use our online booking form: https://www.nationalmigrainecentre.org.uk/becoming-a-patient/book-consultation
We are here to help!
Farewell from Heather Sim
I leave the National Migraine Centre after 8 years and wanted to thank all of those who have helped us deliver a highly regarded and innovative service. As a small charity, we struggle to make ends meet but I did not want my last words to be a plea for money. Instead, I wanted to celebrate our achievements in your words!
“National Migraine Centre quite literally changed my whole life(not to sound too dramatic)! Diagnosed with Hemiplegic Migraine at 17….. I became so miserable after not really getting any help with my GP or neurologist! After seeing Dr Munro just once I felt like I understood my own condition at last….. Last year I was also diagnosed with Cluster Headaches, but with the help of NMC I’ve got fantastic treatments and just a much happier outlook on life in general! The difference in me in 4 years is unbelievable. Now 21, running my own business and happier than ever. None of it would have been possible without Dr Munro and the National Migraine Centre. Thank you!!”
“After over 2 decades of migraines… and seeing NHS neurologists a couple of times a new GP recommended The Migraine Clinic – and they were wonderful. They LISTEN and give you TIME and recommend treatment specifically for you. After about 4 years I went into menopause and things started to get worse again. So I have been back this week. Again I feel revitalised in that they know exactly what mix of meds need changing/adding.”
“What an amazing service! It so refreshing to receive such amazing care – thank you NMC”
In addition, we have been awarded a number of 5 star ratings on Facebook & won Charity Website of the Year for the second consecutive year. Thank you for all the support and great reviews, which help fellow, suffers find solutions to their migraines and cluster headaches.
All of this has come from you as patients volunteering for research into new treatments. This work continues. There is much more to be done and I hope you will continue to support the NMC by volunteering to help in research, raise funds or do volunteer work.
However, I also hope you will make use of the services we provide through the website and by visiting the clinic – we are here to help so help us by making use of us. I wish my successor David Bloomfield good fortune in his new role; he will introduce himself in the next newsletter
I am truly privileged to have worked with such an amazing team and I leave you in their capable hands. I wish you all a healthy, happy future.
Do you have any old pound coins to spare?
A number of you have asked for ways in which you could help raise funds for us. One way you can help is if you have any spare old pound coins, or old five pound notes that you could drop into our Centr, or post to us at 226 Walmer Road, London, W11 4ET. Alternatively you may be able to collect these from friends and family and trade them in at your local bank and then you can donate these contributions online via our Virgin Money Giving Page.
Some of our patients have been kind enough to nominate the Clinic for a donation from corporate charitable trusts. Most large employers and many smaller ones support charities in a variety of ways; examples include payroll giving, matched funding-schemes and ‘Charity of the Year’- awards. If any of you are employees of a company which runs such a scheme please consider us.
We also can arrange in house talks at your organisation, so if you work for a larger employer then please help us get in touch with Occupational Health. Call us on 020 7251 7806 or email email@example.com