Summer Migraines (Enjoying the Season without Migraines!)

50% of migraine sufferers say that weather make their migraines worse!

It’s summertime and for many of us, we’ve already have seen record high temperatures this season. I know that for me changes in the weather are a major migraine trigger. So dealing with high temperatures, high humidity, wind and barometric changes can wreck havoc on my migraines.

Why does the weather make migraines worse?

While migraine headaches are thought to be associated with genetic disorders, external factors do play a role. Environmental changes related to migraines are:

  • Temperature changes
  • High humidity
  • Stormy weather
  • Extremely dry conditions
  • Bright lights and sun glare
  • Barometric pressure changes

Some experts say that those who suffer from migraines and headaches have a lower threshold for pain. Thus we are more sensitive to changes in the environment. As migraine sufferers we have some changes in the perception of external stimuli including vision, hearing, smell, sensations of touch, temperature, body position, and pain recognized through neural receptors in the skin and certain internal organs.

Here are some examples you might be familiar with:

Light sensitivity

Studies have shown that almost 50% of migraine sufferers say that their migraines increased in frequency during the summer months. It is likely that the increased sunlight during the summer causes increased headaches in many migraine sufferers. One theory is that migraine sufferers have an increased sensitivity to light as a result a dysfunction in part of the brain that releases melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that is important is regulating circadian rhythms. In addition, exposure to light suppressed melatonin levels in migraine sufferers more than non migraine sufferers.

Barometric pressure

One study found that even small changes in the barometric pressure triggered a headache. It is thought that decreases in barometric pressure, which often occurs during the summer months, causes the blood vessels in the brain to dilate. This can trigger a release of serotonin. Serotonin causes the blood vessels to constrict. At this point you might start to have migraine symptoms like aura, mood changes and food cravings. When serotonin levels decrease, then the blood vessels dilate again and this leads to the head pain. One study found that lower barometric pressure 48 to 72 hours before triggered a headache.

High Temperatures

Another study found that higher temperatures contribute to migraine and headaches. The study found that out of all the environmental factors, high temperatures in the previous 24 hours were the most closely associated to headache symptoms. There was a 7.5% higher risk of migraine for each temperature increase of 5 degrees Celsius or 9 degrees Fahrenheit.

summer migraines
Avoid weather related migraines this summer

What can help?

While we can’t control the weather, we can certainly prepare ourselves so that we can enjoy the summer months with less headaches. Here are a few products and ideas that can help you get through the summer months migraine free!

  1. Know what the weather will be like.
    Ambient Weather WS-1171B Wireless Advanced Weather Station
    This little weather station is packed with features and it’s a reasonable price. It displays barometric pressure, temperature and humidity levels indoors and outside, dew point, barometer, time and date, and shows daily weather forecasts that help you manage your headaches. When you know what the weather is doing you can bring extra medication if needed to manage your headaches.
  2. Protect your eyes from the sun.
    Since we are more sensitive to sunlight we need to protect our eyes from the sun.
    Axon Optics COVER-RX Migraine Glasses
    These glasses are designed especially for migraine sufferers to reduce light sensitivity and prevent migraines! Need a cheaper option? Try polarized glasses.
    These work great in reducing glare and protecting your eyes from the sun.
  3. Stay Hydrated.
    Dehydration from high temperatures, high humidity and sweating can increase headaches and migraines. Stay super hydrated by drinking water regularly, reducing your intake of caffeinated drinks, eating fruits and veggies high in water content like watermelon, celery, etc. Keep a water bottle with you to help you drink more often.
  4. Avoid exercising in the heat.
    Move your work or exercise inside during the summer months. Protect yourself as much as possible by avoiding exertion outdoors in the heat.
  5. Prepare yourself for travel.
    Make sure you prepare well for the summer weather when traveling. Prepare a migraine kit with the following items:
    My-Grastick Roll-On This contains essential oils known to help with migraines and headaches. It’s small and you can easily stick it into your bag.
    Magnesium Essential Oil Spray  Magnesium oil is awesome for relieving tension that accompanies headaches and migraines. It relaxes the muscles and helps with pain.
    BE KOOOL SOFT GEL SHEETS  This is a great alternative to ice, when you’re traveling or on the go. It will give you a cooling sensation that can help relieve migraine pain.
    The Original Headache Hat Wearable Ice Pack for Migraine Headaches This is a great tool for relieving headache pain using ice. Take this along with you when you travel to have an ice pack available if needed.
    NaturalCare Homeopathic Migraine  This product is great because it’s all natural and provides real relief of headache pain and nausea. I have often used this without need to take any medication. You can also take it as a preventative if you know that the weather may be changing.
    NatraCure Cold Therapy Socks Some people say that changing the temperature of your extremities can relieve headaches and migraines. Having your feet cold and your hands under warm water can help.
    3D Sleep Mask  Use these to get some rest and quiet while traveling.
    Healthy Human 40 oz Water Bottle Staying hydrated is so important and even more so during the summer months. Try to bring a water bottle with you everywhere! Include your medications in this migraine kit and you will be well prepared to tackle a headache or migraine whenever it strikes!

I hope these tips will help you prepare for this summer weather and enjoy this summer’s activities! How do you cope with the summer migraines? Leave your best tips below!

Want more tips to avoid migraines this summer?

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