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Managing Migraine Triggers: Sometimes You Just Gotta Dance

Managing Migraine Triggers: Sometimes You Just Gotta Dance

Concert venues are a hornet’s nest of migraine triggers. They’re hot and crowded, the music is loud and the lights are bright and flashing. Fellow concertgoers bathe in perfume or cologne and usually reek of cigarette smoke and sweat. Bands take the stage late and play well past the bedtimes of many migraineurs. All these factors add up to a neon sign blazing, “DANGER! DANGER! KEEP AWAY!”

It’s a warning I choose to ignore. Getting stung by a migraine doesn’t counteract the joy and release I get from dancing to live music, which is one of my greatest pleasures. I don’t go to shows often, but I float for days after I do.

Trigger management appears so simple: If something triggers a migraine, you don’t do it or smell it or eat it or look at it or listen to it. Reality is far more nuanced. Pinning down all your triggers can be nearly impossible. Not every exposure to a trigger results in an attack. Some triggers are unavoidable. Sometimes the very things we’re supposed to avoid are what we love the most.

Letting fear guide our decisions doesn’t keep the migraine attacks away, but it can sap our joy. Finding a balance between avoiding potential triggers and living our lives is a crucial part of managing the emotional tumult that’s inherent in migraine. Everyone needs to follow their bliss sometimes, even if it means a migraine attack will follow (and even if requires drugging ourselves up to get out of the house in the first place).

I’m not advocating ignoring all your triggers, but choosing what matters most to you and being well-prepared for a possible migraine attack. Have abortive meds, water and your migraine emergency kit on hand. Bring a friend who can drive you home. If possible, make no commitments for the next day. Whatever planning and wrangling it takes, sometimes you just gotta dance.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • StillPortia
    5 years ago

    I am definitely going to prepare a migraine emergency kit. I nearly lost it at my daughter’s recent dance concert. I went from being an episodic migraineur to a chronic migraineur about 2 months ago. So I was not prepared. The crowd, the smells, loud music, and flashing and strobe lights sent me running. I instantly got nauseous, light-headed and dizzy. I had to keep my eyes closed until my daughter performed and I could only watch her with my hand over my eyes peeking out.

  • 2mnyheadaches
    5 years ago

    Thank you Kerrie for writing this. My family does not understand why I don’t want to go to concerts or shows anymore like I used to. They don’t understand that the Migraine it causes is not usually worth the temporary enjoyment. I feel like a “drag” when I have to say “No I can’t go” but I can’t risk getting a Migraine and having to miss work again.

  • Sarah Hackley
    5 years ago

    Thank you for writing this Kerrie. Balancing quality of life and migraine management isn’t always as cut and dry as “avoid your triggers.” Still, sometimes, even when we know this, we need others to give us permission to do what brings us joy, especially when we know our joy will likely be followed by an attack. So, again, thank you for reminding us that our joy is important and for giving us the permission to seek it (at least occasionally).

  • Angie
    5 years ago

    Thank you for saying this Kerrie.

    Sometimes I know doing “x” may trigger a migraine but it’s also important to have that day/evening out with my son, boyfriend or family. I take the risk on occasion and then if a migraine hits those around me say things like “why do you do those things if you know they will trigger a migraine.” Then I feel like I am creating my own missory. But do I not also have the right to create my own happiness in a world full of triggers, both known and unknown, avoidable and unavoidable?

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