Trips upset our daily routines, and as you're probably learning, when routines change, migraine frequently follows.
When traveling, both the timing and content of meals becomes erratic. You may face temperature extremes and weather you're unaccustomed to. Sleep becomes a secondary consideration, especially during leisure travel when there's no reason to impose a strict schedule. And if you're traveling internationally or across time zones domestically, it may be days before your body and mind shake the jet lag and get back on schedule.
And of course, there's often stress involved with travel. Business travel may mean high-pressure meetings and tight schedules. Leisure trips aren't always carefree either. Even if your luggage doesn't get lost and things are moving smoothly, staying on itinerary, keeping within your budget, and coexisting with your travel companions can compound into a stress migraine trigger.
If you're flying to your destination, the changes in cabin pressure that occur during takeoff and landing may be a problem. While you can't control this facet of flying, you can minimize additional triggers.
Stay well hydrated, and steer clear of classic airplane food like roasted nuts or prepackaged snacks because of the high probability of preservatives and additives.
There appears to be a link between motion sickness and migraine, and people with migraine are more likely to get motion sick than those without.
This is especially true in children; 45 percent of children with migraine have motion sickness, while just 5 percent of children without migraine experience motion sickness. So it's not surprising that motion sickness, from plane, train, boat, or over-the-road travel, can trigger a migraine in some people.
Avoiding Motion Sickness
All forms of transportation carry some risk for motion sickness, and consequently, migraine. There are steps you can take to stay centered and keep your stomach calm.
Passengers in a train, bus, or RV should always face forward toward the direction of travel. On an automobile trip, sitting in the front seat and looking out the window may also lessen your risk of motion sickness.
Drivers are the least likely to experience motion sickness because they are focusing on the road and the motion outside and can anticipate any changes in acceleration. If you're along for the ride, try to abstain from reading or playing handheld video games, as this can precipitate motion sickness.
Motion sickness happens when sensory input clashes. If your eyes are focusing on a near fixed object, but the balance center in your inner ear is experiencing the effects of high-speed travel, this dissonance can cause an upset stomach. This is why reading a book in the car is such a common cause of motion sickness.
Reserve a window seat when traveling by air, preferably in the front of the plane where noise levels are lower.
For those migraineurs going on a cruise, try to book lower-level cabins toward the center of the boat, as these tend to experience the least amount of motion. Stay on deck when you can, as having a view of the horizon will help your body acclimate to the motion of the boat.
There are preventative treatments for motion sickness, such as scopolamine patches (Transderm-Scop) and the drug meclizine (Bonine, Dramamine). These drugs should be taken prior to travel and according to doctor's orders. Acupressure bands, worn on the wrist, may also be helpful in relieving travel-related nausea.