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Fireworks and Migraines: July 4th Survival Guide

Posted by Migraine Relief Center on Jun 28, 2017 7:00:00 AM

fourth of july migraines

The annual fireworks and celebrations of July 4th are fast approaching. While it’s a happy time filled with family fun and carefree activities for most of the population, migraine sufferers may feel apprehensive about the occasion.

There is so much going on that could trigger a migraine that it can make even the most seasoned migraineur dread the day. Here are a few tips that might help you get the most of the fireworks and other celebratory traditions without suffering too much during or afterward the events. 

Why Firework Celebrations Could Trigger Migraines

Just about everything going on in a typical July 4th celebration can bring on a migraine. From big crowds and the associated stressful, high-energy atmosphere, to the flashing lights and loud bangs of the fireworks themselves and the nitrate-heavy cured meats smoking as they cook, taking part can be a high risk venture.


Other foods to beware of include aged cheeses served with burgers, salty snacks and caffeinated soda drinks. Letting your guard down for one or two of these common triggers might be a risk you can take when the other factors are absent, but when so many triggers are all together in one place, it’s best to steer well clear of as many as you can.

Minimizing the Effects

Many of us love fireworks, no matter how many times we’ve seen them before. They’re always special and dramatic, and are the explosive exclamations that give a big celebration its added punch and memorability.

If you really can’t bear to stay away from a firework display this July 4th, try one or two of these migraine-saving tactics:

  • Wear earplugs. Not only do you have to contend with the loud explosions of the fireworks themselves, the best displays are often choreographed to loud music. You can protect yourself from a lot of the impact of both (but still hear enough to know what’s happening) by wearing noise cancelling earmuffs or earplugs.
  • Wear tinted or dark glasses. The glare from fireworks can wreak havoc if your migraine is noise triggered, or you find you have sensitivity to loud noises when a migraine starts.

Some fireworks are less migraine-friendly than others, with strobe-type pyrotechnics being among the worst offenders. You never know when flashing fireworks will light the skies, so take eye protection measures throughout the display.

If you find bright lights or sensitivity to light in general affects your migraine, you could consider getting special migraine-relief eyeglasses. Some people find these very helpful in reducing the frequency of their migraine episodes. They won’t protect against every eventuality, but in the fight against pain, every little helps.

Coping Strategies

Other things you can do make July 4th firework celebrations less likely to trigger a migraine include:

  • Watching the display from indoors. This might not be practical if you live far away from an organized display, but often the very large shows can be seen for miles around. Failing watching from indoors, would it be possible to stay in the car? You’ll be protected from the effects of the crowds, the noise and the smoke, although you’ll still need to protect against the bright, flashing lights. If all else fails, and you know attending a live firework show will set you up for days of suffering, determine to give it a miss and watch from home, on TV.
  • Carefully regulate what you eat and drink. It’s easy to get carried away with food and drink, especially with friends who don’t have such restrictions or limitations on what they can eat or drink. Avoid alcohol, nitrate-laden burgers with meat tenderizers, and even some pickles and dips or chips, all of which can trigger a migraine attack. Take your own drinks along, choosing fruit juices or water over soda. Choose chicken or burgers prepared without meat tenderizers and keep dressings and seasoning to a minimum.

Getting Family and Friends on Board

Speak to the people closest to you, and explain the problems you have with firework celebrations. Ask them to understand if you suddenly need to leave, and make arrangements for independent travel beforehand.

Always carry a supply of your medications with you, along with some water to help you swallow any pills.

No one wants to miss out on celebrating the 4th of July. Just because you have migraine doesn’t mean you should either. Maybe you have to plan a little more, or arrange to leave a little earlier, but that’s better than missing the day entirely or spending days afterwards in a darkened room.

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Topics: Migraine

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