Natural disasters can strike quickly and without warning, leaving survivors in physical and emotional pain. Add debilitating headache or migraine to the mix, and surviving becomes that much harder. When faced with a potential natural disaster – wildfires, hurricanes, earthquakes, etc. – it’s essential to have a plan in place to continue treatment of any headache disorder and to understand how to prepare for new symptoms.

Create a Personal Headache Kit

For the purpose of preparedness, headache and migraine patients should keep a headache kit at-the-ready. This should include ice packs, medications and home remedies such as ginger, peppermint, lavender oil or mint juice. Should an event result in evacuation, migraine and headache sufferers may no longer have access to pharmacies or hospitals. Keep an adequate amount of medication readily available in the emergency kit, along with a substantial amount of water to remain hydrated. A lack of access to necessary amenities like food and water can add to the stress of the natural disaster, as this is a known headache trigger.

Understand PTSD-related Headache

Natural disasters are life-changing experiences, capable of leaving survivors with severe stress or anxiety. It is not uncommon for survivors to suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition of psychological stress resulting from a traumatic event. PTSD carries a variety of physical symptoms, including headache or migraine. This can stem from the the sudden and extreme influx of stress after such an experience, or even from smoke and fumes relating to the disaster itself.

Focus on Self Care

For many natural disaster survivors, migraine is a new, painful experience. It may be helpful to avoid reminders or triggers of the disaster. Staying away from social media or news outlets can help keep those thoughts out of mind. It also may be beneficial to take personal time to focus on self care and mindful exercises. Consult with a headache expert to create an individualized plan to treat current symptoms and learn how to prevent them in the future.

Whether an individual who suffers from headache or migraine is creating a natural disaster contingency plan or new and sudden symptoms arise, remember that preparedness is key to maintain health and safety in the event of a natural disaster.