The thing about chronic migraines is that they overload our senses. We get photophobia (heightened sensitivity to light), phonophobia (heightened sensitivity to sounds) and osmophobia (heightened sensitivity to odors). The reason people with a migraine go into a dark, cool room to retreat from a migraine is because they are trying to limit the aggravation from this. It makes our very environment abrasive to us. Far more painful than it should be.
With chronic migraines however we have chronic pain. Just like any other chronic pain means we cannot stop living and moving just because of the pain. We cannot hide in our cave all the time even if we wanted to. We must live our lives. I am one to say that since I essentially became a hermit over the last couple of years. However during my pain clinic class the psychologist leading it said ‘we can’t stop living’ and it burned a hole in my brain. I know we have to socialize for our own mental and emotional wellbeing. But we do owe it to ourselves to not stop living. You have to see it is a chronic condition when you have chronic migraines and therefore as something that must be managed in many ways, so that you can live your life as best you can. Not stop it. The Cave; as we call the place a migraineur goes to get away from a migraine and rest must be used as infrequently as possible. Therefore, as abrasive as the environment is, we must test ourselves in it.
We do what we must then to limit the affects the environment has on us. I wear sunglasses all the time. In fact, I wear sunglasses and hats. It is a real migraineur fashion statement I have going on. They even sell migraine sunglasses that are tinted in the tint FL-41 that is suggested to help with photophobia. I personally use rose tinted glasses inside and sunglasses for outside. If you want to look into the glasses you can check out TheraSpecs. Consider the tint as an option. I know many of us light proof our houses with blackout curtains and use dark sunglasses, but over time this can make us more sensitive to light, which clearly is not our aim. The tint is designed to filter out blue light but allow the rest in and in this way you do not get the painful assault from the photophobia but get the visibility everyone else has.
The weather is a component of the environment we have little control over. It is one of those brutally quick migraine triggers when barometric pressure shifts quickly that can bring one a swift migraine. Personally I find these migraines to be fast and acute. They don’t seem to respond well to my triptans but they are definitely a triptan sort of migraine. It makes certain seasons for us rough. Like spring that we are coming up on because of the volatility we will face in weather conditions. Researchers at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, even correlated the occurrence of lightning with the likelihood of getting a migraine. They found migraineurs were 28% more likely to experience an attack on days when lightning struck within 25 miles of their home.
Also it is important to know we are coming up on allergy season. Migraines get worse right along with your allergies. They also will get a little better when your allergies are managed. This is because there is a link between allergies and migraines. The triggers of allergies, like histamine and so forth, can also cause changes that lead to stimulation of trigeminal nerve endings and a migraine attack. With a connection between these two systems it is important you see your doctor to manage your allergies. I take allergy medicine all the time. Specifically during my allergy season but I also have a cat and dust allergy so I take it all year as well. Also I have asthma so there are a lot of things I do in my home environment to keep allergens down; like bought an expensive vacuum, wash the sheets more, wash stuffed animals, dust often and soon replacing the carpet with hardwood (well laminate). There are a lot of tips online to limit allergens in the house in your allergies are bad or if you have asthma as well, since it is co-morbid with migraines.
Environmental factors are really those factors we have the least amount of control over. Inside our own homes we can control the environment to a pretty good extent. Outside, not so much. It is bright. It is loud. There are odours we have no control over. The world is not very migraine friendly to be that honest. This is why we have to be prepared. We have to bring our migraine preparation kits with us wherever we go. With medications that work for us, our sunglasses or other effective eyewear, ear plugs, perhaps a migraine balm we like to use and anything else we can think of that works in the portable sense. Be prepared. Know you cannot control every factor. Migraines will occur and we have to do the best we can to treat them or manage them when we are out and about in the world. I find when I hit the prodrome or aura I will immediately try to take the time to do some relaxation breathing, if I am in a place where I can do that and take a triptan, if it is a day I can take triptans.
Nikki, Brainless Blogger