These Unexpected Migraine Triggers Might Be An Issue On Valentine's Day, So Here's How To Deal
I'm a huge fan of telling people in my life that I love them, whether that means a partner, my friends, my pup, or even myself. But if I'm being totally honest, chocolate is the main attraction on Feb. 14 each year for me. If you're already starting to dream of chocolate lava cakes and beautiful boxes full of truffles, I'm right there with you. But if you have a history of migraines, then you might want to know about some of the unexpected migraine triggers that you could run into on Valentine's Day. Spoiler alert: You can probably still have chocolate treats without coming down with terrible pain, so don't get too worried.
Thinking about migraines is objectively less celebratory than dreaming about your secret crush, but taking just a little extra caution could be the difference between drifting off into a peaceful sleep on Feb. 14, and fighting through the pain after a romantic dinner. Have no fear, though, because Dr. Sara Crystal, a neurologist, headache specialist, and medical advisor for Cove, is here to share some common triggers that might be part of your Valentine's Day festivities, as well as tips for how to avoid them without feeling like you're missing out on all of the fun.
If you've been getting migraines for a while, then you probably already know what triggers might lead to an episode, so make sure to listen to how your body, specifically, reacts to certain foods, scents, etc. "Triggers are very personal to each person, which is why there’s no one-size-fits-all treatment for migraines," Dr. Crystal tells Elite Daily in an email. Having said that, here are some common culprits you could encounter on Valentine's Day.
Be choosy about your chocolate
"Chocolates contain nitrates, which trigger migraines, as they break down into nitrous oxide," explains Dr. Crystal. But there's no need to completely pass on a beautiful box of rich truffles. As opposed to dark chocolate, milk chocolate contains much less epicatechin, the plant nutrient found in cocoa that causes the release of extra nitric oxide, according to The New York Times. The question of whether white chocolate is actually, you know, chocolate, is definitely controversial, but if you're judging by the likelihood to cause a migraine, white chocolate is the way to go, because it contains almost no epicatechin, per the news outlet.
Be wary of strong scents
"Perfumes are one of the most common odors to trigger headaches in [people who get migraines]," says Dr. Crystal. Floral scents are especially likely to lead to a migraine, she adds. "Some [people] are more sensitive to odors even in between attacks. This intolerance to odors is known as osmophobia." Those who have struggled with migraines for a long time tend to be more likely to have osmophobia, according to Dr. Crystal.
But listen, if you still love the tradition of getting flowers on Valentine's Day, ask your loved one to buy you an unscented plant, like a succulent, instead of the traditional bouquet of roses (or hey, if you're celebrating solo just buy one for yourself). Plus, a hearty succulent won't wilt in just a couple of days, which is a total win-win.
Pass on the nutty desserts
Personally, even though I'm not a huge hazelnut fan, any sweet treat containing Nutella just screams Valentine's Day vibes to me. As much as you may love walnut-packed brownies or a warm carrot cake with plenty of plump raisins, though, if you want to stay migraine-free, you might want to pass on those delicacies, or at least enjoy them in moderation, suggests Dr. Crystal. "Nuts and dried fruit can also be a trigger for some," she explains.
Avoid certain types of alcohol
"Tannins in alcoholic beverages can trigger headaches in some people," Dr. Crystal tells Elite Daily. "It is believed that the higher the tannin content of wine, the more likely it is to trigger a migraine (wines with higher tannin content dry your mouth out more)," she explains.
If you still want to enjoy a glass with your dinner on Feb. 14, try to choose a white wine instead of a red. Since white wines contain less tannins than reds do, Dr. Crystal says that migraine sufferers can probably drink one or two glasses of white and still leave the table pain-free. Another helpful tip: Drink slowly and hydrate with plenty of water along the way.