‘Tis the Season for Headaches? (Video)

Watch out for these common migraine triggers

woman in front of Christmas tree holding her head
The holiday season could also be called “headache season.” Doctors say it’s not uncommon to see an increase in people complaining about migraines this time of the year.

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Jennifer Kriegler, MD, who treats migraine patients, says the increase is tied to the following:

1. Changes in diet

“Holidays are a stressful time and there are lots of migraine triggers around,” Dr. Kriegler says. “You don’t eat the same way, you don’t drink the same way. Sometimes, it’s the first time in a year you’ve had an alcoholic beverage.”

2. Changes in scents

Holiday candles, plants, and wreaths provide smells we don’t typically get the rest of the year, which can cause a headache to develop.

3. Disruption in sleep patterns

A lack of sleep can lead to an increase in headaches.

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4. Stress

Some people will actually make it through the holidays headache-free, but as soon as the holidays are over, they’ll develop “stress-release headaches.” Dr. Krieger says the headache is actually caused by relief after the stress is over.

Dr. Kriegler says your best defense against a migraine during the holidays is to know your triggers.

“Try and be proactive,” she says. “Say, ‘Gee, mom, would you mind not lighting those scented candles? That might provoke my headache.’” 

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