Headaches and the holidays - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Headaches and the holidays

Madison (WKOW) -- The holidays are a time when headaches and migraines seem even more debilitating.

  In this Medical Minute, how to keep the headaches out of the holidays.

  The holidays are a time of joy and fun.

  But for Kathy Mazzola, holiday headaches interrupted her plans.

  She said, "we would be ready to go out for a dinner and I would say, 'I can't go.'"

  Kathy's experience isn't unusual.

  According to the experts, this is a "head-achy" time of year.

  Neurologist Susan Broner said, "around the holidays, there's a lot of increased stress and people are exposed to all sorts of things that are common migraine triggers."

  In fact, many of the things we associate with the holidays: festive lights, late nights, even aromas, can push a headache to the top of the list.

  Doctor Broner also said, "most triggers don't trigger necessarily on their own, but alone or in combination, can start triggering headaches."

  And though the holidays are legendary for indulgent foods, all that dietary drama could set-off a debilitating migraine.

  "So they may be skipping meals and then eating more at other times. And then they're eating foods that they're not used to eating at other times of the year," said Broner.

  The best way to keep these seasonal agonies under wraps is to plan ahead and not worry about creating the "perfect holiday."

  Broner also said, "so that they don't feel like they're completely stressed out and have to do everything for everybody, 'cause that's not really what the holiday seasons are about."

  Kathy's strategy for a happy holiday is to organize early and treat headaches quickly.

  Kathy said, "with the medication, too, I don't get so uptight about all the things I have to do,'cause once everything is done, I'm fine."

 ...leaving her plenty of time to enjoy the gift of the 'present' with her family.

  Doctor Broner says treating a headache at its onset is key to making sure it doesn't knock you down.

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