Tips From The Vestibular Disorder Association For Handling The Holidays

The Vestibular Disorder Association (VeDA) has just published a guide to handling the holidays when you are a vestibular patient.

Holidays can be a challenge because of overstimulation, fatigue, high sodium foods (which are a trigger for some patients), and the presence of ongoing symptoms such as vertigo and dizziness. Many patients have to avoid social gatherings because they can trigger their symptoms, but this means they miss out on some of the best holiday joys.

Thankfully, there are strategies you can implement to help you manage your symptoms and still enjoy your time with your family over the holiday season. With these tips you can enjoy a party or a trip, and still not feel miserable the next day. These tips were shared by patients, for patients.

Tips For Social Gatherings

  1. Don’t be afraid to take breaks!
  2. Stay hydrated. Bring a water bottle with you and drink it frequently throughout the event.
  3. If you’re going to a party, try to talk to the host before you go and let them know you might need a break/a place to lay down, and that you might have to leave early.
  4. If you can, try to find a seat away from fans, loud kitchens, speakers, or other loud items/areas.
  5. For meals, try to sit at the end of the table. It’s easier to get up if you need a break and you’ll have to turn your head less frequently during conversations.
  6. Don’t neglect your medications. Stay on your schedule regardless of the timing of events.
  7. Don’t be afraid to use the tools you need to protect yourself. Bring your walker or cane if it helps you. Your health is top priority.
  8. Reference the VeDA’s Crisis Planning Toolkit
  9. If there’s no quiet place for you to take a break, don’t be afraid to take a few extra minutes in the bathroom. Give yourself time away from the chaos and noise.
  10. Have an exit plan ready. Know who is picking you up, make sure that person is sober, and communicate the timing.
  11. If you know that sodium is a trigger, speak to the host in advance about what the meal will be. Ask which dishes don’t have salt. Consider bringing a dish with you that you know you can eat, or eat in advance. You can also check out the tips from VeDA on how to know where sodium can hide.
  12. Be aware of your body and your needs.
  13. Avoid your triggers if you can, and if you can’t, at least try to minimize them.
  14. Come early and leave early to avoid noise, find seating more easily, and still enjoy the company.
  15. Think about your spoons. We all have a limited number of spoons each day. Use each one wisely, and rest when you need to replenish the spoons.

Tips For Travel

Tips for Driving

  1. Always make sure you have your phone and a phone charger. Portable chargers are a great precaution.
  2. Have emergency phone numbers written down just in case something happens to your phone or you run out of charge.
  3. Try to avoid traveling during rush hour. This also means avoiding high-travel days whenever possible. Leave a few days early for your Thanksgiving trip if at all possible.
  4. Bring the phone number of emergency roadside assistance.
  5. Document where the closest emergency rooms are along your route.
  6. If you’re traveling alone, make sure someone is aware of where you’re going, what time you expect to get there, and what route you are going on.
  7. Think about your medications. Make sure you have picked up all the prescriptions you need, and be aware that these can often take longer to fill over the holidays.
  8. Think about wearing some sort of medical ID bracelet or necklace.

Tips for Flying

  1. Book your seat in advance.
  2. Consider pre-medicating if you tend to get migraines while on a plane.
  3. Board first. You don’t need an official note for this, just tell the attendant that you have a medical condition.
  4. Consider a wheelchair transport in the airport so you don’t have to walk so far. This is especially helpful when the airports are crowded during the holidays. Additionally, busy carpet patterns in airports can be triggering.
  5. Bring earplugs which can minimize noise and equalize pressure.
  6. Bring/take a decongestant
  7. Use a scopolamine patch for nausea.
  8. Use a walking stick or cane to steady yourself down the plain aisles.

Tips for Taking a Train 

  1. Don’t choose a backward facing seat. Try to face the direction the train is going.
  2. Upper level seats are more advantageous than lower level seats
  3. Close the blinds so you don’t see the scenery moving quickly by you.

We hope these tips help and we’d love to hear your own tips for the holidays! Check out some additional recommendations here.

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