Avoiding Festive Migraine
Christmas may seem full of migraine triggers; late nights & alcohol, flashing lights, frantic last-minute preparations, over excitement and travel. Migraine is horrible at any time, but at Christmas, it can really spoil the fun. There is the inevitable guilt of letting down those closest to you and the accompanying strain on relationships. In anticipation, migraineurs can be reassured that with careful planning and lifestyle changes, their focus can be on enjoying the festivities.
Recognise your limitations - plan and pace your activities and resist the urge to stretch yourself too thinly. There is a temptation for migraineurs to do too much, to push too hard and overcompensate on good days, increasing the risk of migraine.
Try to stick to a regular sleeping and eating pattern where possible. If late nights are unavoidable, at least be vigilant of other avoidable triggers on those days. Catching up with a lie-in is often counter-productive for migraine sufferers. Avoid too many sugary foods and don't skip meals. A healthy breakfast and frequent snacks with protein-rich almonds, fruits and vegetables will help to maintain optimal blood sugar levels and prevent migraines.
Start your New Year’s resolutions early by exercising regularly and getting out in the fresh air. Light cardio exercise kicks in endorphins, improves the neurochemical balance in your brain and prevents a stress 'let down' headache after a busy day.
Alcohol is a big trigger for a lot of migraine sufferers but you may be able to get away with the odd glass if you follow the points above and try to:
Opt for white wine and clear spirits over red wine and cocktails.
Eat before and after drinking to prevent a drop in your blood-sugar levels. Lining your stomach with fatty food or a glass of whole milk will slow down the rate at which alcohol reaches the bloodstream and reduce irritation in the lining of the stomach.
Drink slowly. The body metabolizes approximately one unit of alcohol per hour. If you drink faster than this, alternate an alcoholic drink with water or a soft drink.
If you wake up feeling a little worse for wear eat something light and easy to digest to counteract the effects of the alcohol, try a fructose containing foods combined with carbohydrate eg. toast, honey and fruit juice. Take a couple of pain-killers if you need to, soluble or effervescent forms are useful and avoid drugs containing codeine as they worsen nausea. It’s also best to avoid caffeine as like alcohol, it irritates the stomach.
If you do feel an attack starting, take action fast. Treating migraine early, drinking plenty and eating fibre and protein regularly are usually effective in stopping or making the attack more tolerable.
We are pleased to say that the majority of patients are so positive when they leave the Centre, and want to do more to help. We felt that this was too good an opportunity to miss engaging them in our cause, so have with the help of a user-led focus group produced a new leaflet that will be handed out to all new patients.
We wanted something for patients to take away with them following their first visit, firstly to promote the idea of community and that we are here to help them longterm, but also to encourage patients to help us in future by spreading the word about us and fundraising. Patients often say to us when they leave, 'I wish I could afford to donate more' so this leaflet contains our suggestions for different ways that they can help, for example taking posters to their GP surgery.
We hope that it will boost awareness of the condition and NMC's service, increase fundraising activity and maximise longterm engagement with the charity. You can view the leaflet here
. We'd love to hear what you think.
Some of you participated last year in a trial using hypnotherapy to help with migraine. In total there were 26 participants, three on a one-to-one basis and 23 in groups of seven or eight. We asked for detailed feedback from the participants at the end of the five sessions and then three months and six months later, so we have only recently received the final outcome measures, and would like to thank all those who responded.
The final outcome was very encouraging. Using HIT-6 (a Headache Impact Test score) there was an average improvement of 3.7, 5.2 and 3.7 points at the end of treatment, three months and six months later respectively, a statistically significant result. There was also positive feedback on the use of a group for treatment as participants gained support from sharing their situation with others.
During the five sessions participants learned a number of different self-help techniques, the most fundamental being self-hypnosis. Participants were asked to rate how useful the different techniques were and the majority found self-hypnosis to be the most helpful. However, each person is different and we were expecting that any one technique would appeal to some participants but not all. This proved to be the case. Hypnotic self-help techniques included dissociation, master control room imagery and symptom imagery. There were also some techniques for reducing stress, a common contributory factor for migraine, and for avoiding triggers.
Although there was a considerable variation in the effect on participants only one person would not recommend hypnotherapy to another migraineur, so we are continuing to look for sources of funding to carry out a larger trial. In the meantime, anybody who wants to experience self-hypnosis can do so if they have an iPhone or iPad. Patrick Browning, the clinical hypnotherapist who conducted the trial, has created an app, which you can download for free. Go to the Apple App Store and search on Patrick Browning. Within the app there is a further session (short title "migraine") offering dissociation imagery, and in future there will be other sessions of interest to people with migraine. See also www.Browning-hypnosis.co.uk for more information.
All Party Parliamentary Group on Headache
Your experiences of NHS services
The APPG on Primary Headache Disorders has launched an inquiry into care for sufferers in England. Current evidence suggests that headache services in the UK are inefficient and inadequate, failing to address the significant burden of primary headache disorders on the NHS and the economy.
The inquiry will investigate the current provision of care for headache patients in England. It will build a body of evidence to examine whether opportunities exist in the new NHS system to save money and to improve patient care through the design and commissioning of cost-effective headache services.
We would like to invite you to submit written evidence to the inquiry. All written submissions must be sent, using this questionnaire
, to firstname.lastname@example.org
by Wednesday 15th
January 2014. Full details can be found on the Headache UK website
Jim Fitzpatrick MP, Chair of the group said:
“We want to hear from as many people as possible with experience of NHS services in England. It is important to the inquiry that the evidence given to the group reflects the experiences of those providing and receiving care for headache disorders across the country. This will enable us to build a full picture of the challenges and opportunities that exist for headache in the new healthcare system.”
A full report with the panel’s recommendations will be published in Spring 2014.
If you have any questions please contact Hannah Verghese by email or on 020 7631 6973.
We have a very limited number of these fun Christmas cards for sale in aid of the Centre! They make us smile so if they do the same for you drop us an email and we can send some out to you.
We are selling them for 50p each or £2.50 for 6, plus postage.