Flying with a Migraine: Tips to Prepare for Takeoff

Migraines are no fun. They can ruin your day, week, or month. If you're someone who suffers from migraines, you know that flying is not always an option. However, sometimes flying is the only way to get to your destination. So what do you do if you have a migraine and need to fly? This blog post will discuss how to prepare for a flight when you have a migraine and what to do if an attack occurs during takeoff.

Flying with a migraine

Flying with a migraine can be an intimidating experience, but there are steps that can help you prepare. Before flying, visit your doctor to discuss any medications or treatments that could help manage your migraine and flying-related anxiety to reduce any migraine triggers.

On the day of travel, make sure to get plenty of rest and drink enough water to stay hydrated. Eat a light meal before flying as well as during the flight if necessary. Pack snacks and over-the-counter pain relief medications in case you have an attack during takeoff and landing. Wear comfortable clothing and try to get up and move around during the flight if possible.

If you do experience a migraine attack or airplane headache while flying, try to remain calm and ask for assistance from the flight attendants. They can bring you water, snacks, and other items that may help relieve your symptoms, such as a cold compress or even anti-nausea medication if necessary. If needed, you can also ask for a masking device to block out light and sound.

What to do if you have a migraine before flying?

Take ibuprofen paracetamol before you board

Migraine sufferers that experience a migraine or headache before a flight can always take an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen or paracetamol. This can help lighten the current headache, prevent a migraine attack during flying, and keep the symptoms at bay.

Avoid foods that could trigger a headache

Some foods, like processed meats and aged cheeses, can be a common migraine trigger, so it's best to avoid these foods before flying. Additionally, flying can make you dehydrated, so it's best to drink plenty of water throughout the flight.

Pack a migraine kit

It's always a good idea to pack a migraine kit with items such as rescue medication (The 4AllFamily medication cooler keeps Aimovig and Emgality refrigerated while on the plane), pain relievers, snacks that are less likely to trigger an attack (avoiding processed meats and aged cheeses), dark sunglasses, earplugs, sleeping masks, etc. This will help ensure you have everything you need in case of an attack while flying.

Skip on alcohol, caffeinated and sugary drinks

It's best to avoid alcohol and caffeinated and sugary drinks before flying, as these can be migraine triggers.

Postpone flight

If you are experiencing a severe migraine before flying, and only when it's possible can you postpone your flight. This can help prevent any further triggers or discomfort associated with flying. If possible, make sure to reschedule for another day and get plenty of rest. Drink plenty of fluids and take any medications prescribed by your doctor.

What to do if you have a migraine during the flight?

During the flight, there might be some items that can increase the risk to trigger migraine. Common migraine triggers could be;

  • A sudden drop in cabin pressure

  • Barometric pressure changes

  • Bright lights from the sun reflecting on the clouds

If you have a migraine attack during the flight, remain calm and ask the flight attendants for help. They can assist you in finding comfort items such as water, snacks, sleeping masks, earplugs, or cold compresses to make flying more bearable. If needed, they can also provide anti-nausea medications to alleviate any nausea-related symptoms associated with migraines.

There is not a lot of difference between having a migration before or during a flight. Make sure you;

  • Depending on the pain intensity, you can take ibuprofen or paracetamol to relieve the pains

  • Avoid migraine-triggering foods and drinks

  • Pack a migraine kit with

If you have chronic migraine, make sure that you pack your prescribed medication with you on board.

How to prepare for a flight when you have a migraine?

Flying with a migraine isn't easy, but it's possible! By taking proactive steps such as seeing your doctor before flying and packing the right items for relief, people with migraine can make flying more manageable.

Pack sleeping gear

Try to get some rest. Bring a neck pillow and a sleep mask to help you relax during the flight.

Drink and eat correctly

Drink plenty of fluids, including water, juices, or herbal teas with no caffeine. Avoid overly salty foods,, as they can trigger dehydration.

Wear the right clothing

Wear loose-fitting clothes in layers so that you can adjust your temperature if necessary.

If flying is unavoidable and migraine symptoms become unbearable while flying, tell a flight attendant so they can find medical assistance for you onboard. They may be able to provide oxygen therapy or other treatments that could help reduce your migraine attacks.

Precautions to take when flying with a migraine

You can take several precautions to ensure flying with a migraine is as safe and comfortable as possible.

See your doctor before flying

Before flying, talk with your doctor about any medications or treatments you may need. It's also important to let them know if you are experiencing any new symptoms that could be related to flying.

Keep hydrated

Drink plenty of water throughout the flight, especially during takeoff and landing, when air pressure changes can affect your body and make migraine symptoms worse.

Avoid other passengers' scents

Fragrances from perfumes, lotions, or hair products can worsen migraine symptoms, so avoid sitting near people wearing strong smells.

Wear sunglasses & earplugs

Bright lights from the sun reflecting off clouds can

Take preventative medication before flying

If you have chronic migraines, take your prescribed medications beforehand to help manage the pain and reduce your risk of experiencing a migraine attack while flying.

Avoid triggers

Before flying, avoid foods that can trigger migraines, such as processed meats, aged cheeses, alcohol, and caffeinated and sugary drinks.

How to deal with the aftermath of a migraine while flying

After a migraine attack, make sure to get some rest and drink plenty of fluids. If you're feeling nauseous or have a headache, take medication to relieve the symptoms. If you aren't able to get to your destination by yourself, consider flying with a companion so they can help take care of you and ensure that you get the rest and care you need.

By taking preventive measures and being aware of our bodies, flying with a migraine doesn't have to be an impossible journey. With proper preparation, flying while having a migraine can be managed so that we can still enjoy our trips without worrying about the risks associated with flying.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you get on a plane with a migraine?

Yes, flying with a migraine is possible. However, it's essential to consult with your doctor before flying and take any necessary precautions, such as avoiding foods that may trigger a headache and packing the right items for relief. Additionally, if you begin experiencing a migraine attack during the flight, make sure to alert the flight attendants so they can help you find comfort items or provide medical assistance if needed.

Does flying make a migraine worse?

In some cases, flying may make a migraine worse. This is because flying can be associated with a few triggers such as changes in barometric pressure, bright lights, and sudden drops in cabin pressure. To reduce these risks, it's important to take any necessary precautions.

How do you get rid of migraine on a plane?

To get rid of migraine on a plane, you may want to try taking an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen or paracetamol. If needed, flight attendants may be able to provide anti-nausea medications to alleviate any nausea-related symptoms associated with migraines.

How do I reduce head pressure when flying?

To reduce head pressure when flying, it's important to stay hydrated and avoid overly salty foods. You may also want to bring a neck pillow and an eye mask on board to rest more comfortably during the flight. Additionally, if an attack occurs during takeoff, try inhaling slowly through your nose and exhaling through your mouth until the pressure has equalized.

There are two methods that can help reduce the pressure you feel in your head and ears when flying. Chewing gum or eating will act as a temporary measure to relieve any pressure caused by the change in cabin altitude. Swallowing water will also help to ease this discomfort.

Conclusion

It's clear that flying with a migraine can be a challenge, but it can be managed with the proper preparation and precautions. Be sure to consult your doctor ahead of time and prepare accordingly by packing any necessary medications and items that could help ease migraine symptoms. Additionally, alert flight attendants to find medical assistance if you experience an attack during takeoff or in the air. Follow these steps for flying with a migraine and you’ll soon have better control of your flying experience.

Good luck flying, and have a safe and comfortable journey!

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