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Navigating Holiday Parties with Migraines
Five Tips from Marcia Cross

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The holiday season should be a time of the year fun-filled with parties with friends, families and co-workers. But, if you suffer from migraine disease, certain foods and hectic schedules prevalent during the season can be just enough to trigger a migraine and ruin the holiday fun.

More than 35 million Americans, including TV and Film Actress Marcia Cross, suffer from migraines, and exposure to migraine-related triggers can peak during the holiday season. But that doesn’t mean that you have to avoid the holiday festivities! If there's anything good about migraine disease, it's that there are a great many things we can do to help ourselves, to avoid migraine attacks and improve our quality of life.

Here are Marcia’s tips for managing her migraines and enjoying the festivities throughout the holiday season:

  1. Make party planning stress-free: Stress can make you more susceptible to your migraine triggers. Planning a dinner party for friends and family? Plan ahead and shop early. Enlist helpers and delegate duties to make last-minute details stress free as possible.
  2. Eat regularly: An empty stomach is known to spur migraines. Even if you are busy, it’s important to make time to eat. Pack a snack with you when you are on-the-go to avoid skipping meals.
  3. Get your shut eye: A lack of sleep or too much sleep can trigger a migraine. Try to keep a regular sleep schedule during the season. Pick a few key events and get an appropriate amount of rest.
  4. Know your food triggers: Certain foods and drinks can fuel a migraine. If cheese is one of your triggers, try choosing fresh fruits and vegetables as a substitute. Consider opting for the carrot cake if chocolate seems to lead to your migraine attacks. In other words, you can still enjoy, just think about your choices.
  5. Be Prepared: In the past, a strategy that has worked for me was keeping my migraine specific medication with me at all times. That way I could take it at the first sign of migraine pain, to lessen the chance that a migraine would ruin my day.

Also from Marcia:

If you experience frequent, bad headaches talk to your doctor about an effective plan to manage your headaches or migraines.

Understanding your migraines is the first step to keeping them controlled!


Marcia Cross’s Story

Migraines have been a part of Marcia’s life for years. She had her first when she was in high school. At the time, the school nurse and her parents didn’t know what it was, and she was sent home to bed. She also got frequent bad headaches in college. She would have problems with her vision, and horrible head pain, making the simplest tasks difficult.

After talking to a doctor about her frequent, bad headaches, she learned that she had classic migraine symptoms and was quickly diagnosed. Unfortunately, back then, the medications that were available didn’t help her pain. Then, about ten years ago, she got a migraine at work. A woman on the set who also had migraines told her about how she used a medicine specifically designed for the treatment of migraines. She talked to her doctor again, and at the time he prescribed a migraine-specific medicine for her.

When she was diagnosed with migraines, she started keeping a food diary and learned that certain foods can fuel a migraine.

She also did some research on her own and found books that really explained what migraines are, and how stress and certain foods can trigger them. Now, while migraines are still part of her life, her emphasis is now on avoiding her triggers.


Along with other information on our site, you can also go to to take a quiz and get more information to help you when talking with your doctor.

Note: Marcia Cross is a paid spokeswoman for GlaxoSmithKline.

Published November 1, 2006
© Teri Robert


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