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Can Heat And Humidity Cause Migraines

Why Do Heat And Humidity Affect My Sinuses

Mayo Clinic Minute: Can weather trigger migraines?

We normally associate sinus infections and runny noses with cold weather, but for people with sinusitis, these symptoms can strike during a warm day at the beach. But why?Your sinuses are lined by a delicate layer of skin known as the mucous membrane. The mucous membrane is partially made up of tiny hair-like particles known as cilia. Working together, the cilia are supposed to help clean your sinuses, brushing out any left-over mucus that could clog your sinuses. Cilia thrive in slightly warm, moist climates as anyone who has spent more than five minutes in Houston will tell you, Houstons heat and humidity takes both to an uncomfortable extreme.

In the extreme heat and humidity, cilia dont function properly, allowing mucus to clog and bacteria to flood into the sinuses. When bacteria, allergens, and other irritants invade your sinuses, the mucous membrane becomes inflamed, leading to painful sinus symptoms including mucus buildup and pressure. On top of the heat and humidity, now you have sinus pain, pressure, swelling and headaches to deal with.

Learn Your Headache Triggers

Figuring out what causes or worsens your headaches is the first step in finding an effective treatment.

Dr. Block recommends tracking your headaches on a calendar. Write down what kind of headache you have, where it is located in your head, and what went on during that day, he says. Did you have something to eat that was out of the ordinary? Was the weather pattern changing? Did the temperature fluctuate? Or was the pressure changing?

Of course, theres nothing you can do to change the weather. But knowing what one or more weather conditions act as a trigger is valuable information. These clues will help your doctor determine the best treatment options for you.

Dr. Block explains how some headaches triggered by weather changes can be related to allergies.

Click play to watch the video or read video transcript.

Can headaches triggered by weather changes also be related to allergies?

Weather changes can actually exacerbate headaches in terms of allergies when we see fluctuations in temperatures, different weather patterns with much higher winds. Oftentimes it’ll stir up a lot of the different allergens in the environment.

We definitely see people struggle when we have major changes of season. So when we go from winter to spring, a lot of the flowers and the trees start to bud and create a lot of pollen. And then we certainly see a lot of headaches that are derived from that.

Migraines Hurricanes And Shifts In Barometric Pressure

For some, changes in the weather bring welcome relief, but for those who experience migraine headaches, the fluctuations can be another trigger for this often debilitating neurological condition. Weather changes can be a particular problem during hurricane season.

As many as half of those who suffer from migraines report that weather is a factor. Many weather conditions can cause migraines precipitation, humidity, lightning, wind and barometric pressure.

Barometric pressure, also known as atmospheric pressure, measures the force of air exerted on a surface. This pressure changes as different air masses or fronts move through. Changes in barometric pressure can happen with temperature changes, wind, precipitation and cloud cover.

When the air pressure changes, it creates a difference in pressure between the air surrounding you and the air in your sinus cavities, says Kamel Ben-Othman, M.D., a neurologist with Riverside Neurology and Sleep Specialists. This is similar to what happens when you fly in an airplane, and your ear hurts from changes in altitude.

According to the American Migraine Foundation, one Japanese study looked at the effects a typhoon, another term for a hurricane, and falling barometric pressure had on headaches. Researchers discovered that 75% of people prone to migraines had a migraine attack during these weather shifts. Only 20% of people who experience tension headaches experienced a migraine attack.

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Lower Indoor Humidity With Dehumidifiers

Did you know? You can use a dehumidifier to lower indoor humidity levels and reduce mold growth and air density. And heres the best part: while we usually cant feel the difference with our hands, we typically can in our sinuses. Goodbye migraines!

So, if lower humidity in your room decreases the air pressure, then a humidifier must make it worse then, right?

Not necessarily.

I Do Enjoy Rainy Days

Weather &  Headaches

And, its so irritating too, because I LOVE the rain. I can watch the rain actively for however long it stays. I am glued to the window when a thunderstorm comes and I wish I could go outside and sit on the steps and just enjoy it all.

Interestingly, I hate being wet. I wont stand in it, but Ill certainly wait under the protection of an awning or garage.

I would be thrilled if it rained all day, every day. The bleak, grey feel doesnt bother me one bit. Winter and fall are so boring to me because it never rains. Life is better with rain.

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Cold Weather Thunderstorms Can Trigger Asthma Attacks

For people with asthma, a variety of triggers can result in inflamed airways, provoking an asthma attack. It turns out weather is one of them.

With exercise-induced asthma, cold weather can signal trouble. “When breathing in fast, the air they exchange doesn’t have a chance to warm up,” says David Hagaman, MD, medical director at the Vanderbilt Asthma, Sinus and Allergy Program. As a result, the increased cooling of the airway triggers the airway to react by swelling.

For the many asthma patients who list pollen as a primary trigger, thunderstorms can be a real problem. A recent study in the journal Allergy described how wind in thunderstorms carries pollen grains at ground level that get into the lower part of the airway, sending high numbers of asthma patients to hospitals for the treatment of asthma attacks.

How To Prevent Sinus Problems

Now, you are wondering, is there something to do to prevent sinus problems?

Here are some tips that should help you avoid problems with sinuses.

Preventing a sinus infection includes practicing good hygiene, keeping your immune system strong and avoiding known risk factors.

Maintain a healthy immune system. Your immune system consists of specialized cells that search for and attempt to exterminate disease-causing microorganisms.

But when these cells are malfunctioning and weakened, bacteria and viruses can proliferate in mucus membranes and more likely to cause sinus infections.

So, you should focus on ways to keep your immune system strong to naturally prevent sinus infections and other infectious diseases.

Wash your hands frequently. Most bacterial and viral infections are spread by touching someone who is infected and introducing the germs directly into your mouth, eyes or nose.

Infectious microorganisms can inhabit for hours in body secretions such as mucus and saliva.

As such, be careful touching people who are evidently ill during a typical cold season and make sure to wash your hands frequently to reduce the risk of sinus problems.

Avoid exposure to irritants. In addition to allergens, many chemical irritants can induce inflammation and irritation in your nasal passages, which makes them more susceptible to getting infected.

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Changes In The Weather

Storms, excessive heat and changes in barometric pressure are common weather-related migraine triggers that can lead to a migraine attack. High humidity and heat can easily lead to dehydration, another common trigger.

How to cope: We cant control the weather, so if the current conditions are not favorable for your migraine, stay inside or adjust your schedule accordingly. If theres an errand you need to run and its the middle of July in Arizona, take care of it in the morning before it gets too hot!

Coping With Excessive Heat

Dr. David Soria Q& A: Heat exhaustion & heat stroke Can heat cause migraines?

Sweltering weather can be a challenge. But as much as it can be uncomfortable, sometimes high temperatures cannot be avoided entirely.

If you cannot avoid heat, here are a few helpful ways to manage it:

  • Keep a water bottle with you and drink plenty of fluids.
  • Check the forecast to prepare for hot weather.
  • Keep headache medicine on hand.
  • Wear lightweight and loose-fitting clothes.
  • Stay with friends while in high heat in case someone needs help.
  • Wear and reapply sunscreen regularly.
  • Bring a sun umbrella.
  • Sit in a pool or go swimming to cool off.
  • Alter your schedule to avoid the heat.

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Some Natural Reliefs For Sinus Problems

Some natural sinus pain remedies can offer relief, whether your symptoms are due to the allergies, common cold, or a sinus infection .

Try these sinus pain remedies to help ease achiness and congestion before turning to antibiotics.

Use humidifier. Adding moisture to the air that you breathe using a humidifier can help to release sinus congestion by loosening up the mucus secretions of the nasal passages.

It’s recommended cold mist humidifiers for sinus problems. So the advice is, make it a routine to sleep with a cool-mist humidifier in your bedroom.

Things To Note

Drink up. Staying hydrated helps your body in many ways, as well as keeping your sinuses moist.

Drink water, and make sure to avoid caffeinated or alcoholic drinks, which can cause dehydration.

Recommended fluid intake differs from person to person an easy directive is to drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses a day.

How can you know if you are getting enough fluids? If the color of your urine is clear, you are hydrated.

Spice it up. Piquant foods such as hot peppers, mustard, curry, horseradish, and wasabi may help clear sinuses.

If you like spice, add some hot spices to your meals to open your nasal passages.

Flush your nasal passages. A saline wash thins mucus and helps flush it out of the nasal passages.

If you have sinus problems, it’s recommended to use a daily saline spray to keep the sinuses moist.

Apply warm compresses. You can use a warm compress to help keep the nasal tissues moist.

The Brain Oxygen And Headaches

In a healthy nervous system, the brain gets sufficient oxygen automatically through the blood and there are no symptoms. But as we go through life, many of us unsuspectingly sustain damage to our nervous system that silently alters our blood pressure mechanism.

This damage leads to low levels of oxygen in the brain and causes the headaches, dizziness, and chronic fatigue you experience during high heat. It might be mistaken for migraine headaches because of the intense headache pain or low blood sugar since you feel the need to snack between meals.

It can also cause a tingling sensation in your arms or face, trigger insomnia, or cause your anxiety levels to spiral out of control.

Your brain will command you to temporarily boost blood flow to get more oxygen by eating carbs and sugar, craving salty snacks, drinking water or soda constantly, or through muscle contractions . You lose your willpower and your ability to control these behaviors when your prehistoric brain uses these tricks for oxygen.

You will blow your diet, you will still feel bad despite drinking lots of water, and you will be so tired you can barely think straight. You might panic because your headaches and dizziness are untouched by regular painkillers or treatment.

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It’s The Increase In Temperature That Triggers A Migraine Attack Vs The Temperature Itself Arm Yourself With A Plan If You Often Get A Migraine When It’s Hot

If you’re prone to get a Migraine when it’s hot, you’re not alone. The glare, humidity, and triple-digit temps seem like a recipe for an attack. But scientists agree that those heat Migraine attacks are caused by the temperature increase itself.

While it isn’t exactly clear why this occurs, we do know that it’s the increase in temperature that is likely to trigger a Migraine versus the temperature itself.

Armed with this knowledge, you can start to up your Migraine prevention tactics when the forecast predicts the mercury is about to rise.

What Can I Do If The Weather Causes My Migraines

Its not all in your head: Weather can trigger migraines

Whats particularly frustrating for those who experience migraines because of barometric pressure or other weather changes is that they cant control the trigger. But they can take steps to mitigate them as much as possible, Dr. Ben-Othmane says.

A migraine diary is an essential tool for all who are prone to migraines. Keeping one can help you can make correlations between migraines and factors such as:

  • Bright or flashing lights
  • Type of food youve eaten
  • Weather

If you can identify factors you can control that seem to trigger the pain, you can avoid them. This way, they dont contribute to a potential migraine caused by uncontrollable factors, says Dr. Ben-Othmane.

If you struggle with migraine headaches, your primary care provider can suggest over the counter and prescription medications to take when you start to feel migraine symptoms. To see a Riverside primary care provider or neurologist, call or make an appointment through MyChart today.

Riverside COVID-19 Assessment Tool

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How Can Low Humidity Cause Sinus Problems

If the air you breathe in is too dry, the mucus in your sinuses and nose wont flow normally, and your sinuses wont drain as well as they should.

Dry air affects the sinuses because it harms the cilia that filter out the debris and bacteria in the mucous membrane lining the sinus and nasal cavities.

Therefore, adding moisture to the air is generally good for sinus health.

The nose is meant to provide humidity and warmth and clean the air that passes through it.

Forced heating systems in your homes and workplaces frequently over-dry the nasal passages, aggravating allergies and sinusitis.

Humidified air is good for sinusitis, especially in the winter.

Dry sinuses are 50% more likely to attract sinusitis-causing bacteria than moist sinuses.

Dry air worsens the sinuses because it damages the cilia that help filter out the bacteria and debris in the mucous membrane lining the nasal and sinus cavities.

The atmosphere can also become especially dry if you are exposed to air conditioning, wood-burning stoves or forced-air heating.

Do You Have A Migraine Season Real People From The Community Explore The Weather

Do spring storms bring you to your knees in pain? Are hot, humid days your arch-nemesis? Do you religiously check the forecast, trying to predict your likelihood of calling out sick?

For many people with Migraine, the weather impacts much more than what we’re going to wear or what route we take to work. What is happening in the sky can literally mean the difference between a productive day and a day spent curled up in the dark.

While Migraine triggers are personal and vary from person to person, certain weather patterns are among the most common triggers. And different people are affected by different weather patterns.

The winter Migraine season, with cold temps and high winds, is the worst part of the year for those triggered by barometric pressure change.

On the other hand, the summer Migraine season is prime pain time for those sensitive to heat, humidity, dehydration, sunshine, or thunderstorms.

The people around you who don’t have Migraine probably don’t fully understand why a storm or a heat wave sends you to bed in pain. Misery loves company, as they say, and you’re in good company.

We polled our Migraine Again community and received dozens of funny, heartfelt, and true comments about weather-triggered Migraine attacks from the warriors who handle them.

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So How Does The Weather Affect My Migraines

In general, any sudden change can trigger a headache. If the temperature were to suddenly increase or decrease, that may put you at risk for a headache. If the humidity were to suddenly become very high or very low, a headache becomes more likely. A passing storm or wind system might also trigger a migraine. Going to Denver for a trip, and having a sudden change in altitude might also do it. You may also have headaches while flying, especially during the descent. This headache may also be related to a mismatch between the pressure around you and the pressure in your sinuses.

Barometric Pressure Measures The Exerted Force Of The Air Around You Youll Often Hear That People Get A Headache When A Storm Rolls In This Is Due To The Increase In Barometric Pressure Which Pushes On Their Sinuses And Gives Them A Headache

Migraine sufferers urged to keep eye on weather forecast

Generally, the closer you are to sea level, the higher the barometric pressure. Two main factors cause this:

  • the amount of gravitational force pushing the air down around you
  • the density of the air, based on the amount of water vapor in the air
  • So, what does barometric pressure have to do with indoor humidity?

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    There Are Two Weather Conditions To Look Out For:

    • Falling barometric pressure signals that storms are coming. The more serious the storm, the more significant and rapid the change will be. A complete change in pressure levels may take only a few minutes, and headache sufferers are often the first to notice it.
    • Rising barometric pressure is typically associated with better weather. As barometric pressure rises, it signals that humidity levels are likely to increase. The stifling feeling of high humidity can cause migraines on its own.

    What can you do to ward off your humidity headaches? When adverse conditions appear, try to stay indoors as much as possible. If you must be exposed, take any preventive medication you normally take as soon as you notice pressure-related symptoms. Staying hydrated also helps.

    Can Humidity Cause Headaches The Facts You Need To Know

    Although everyone has their own unique triggers for headaches and migraines, there are certain factors that are more prevalent than others. For example, stress, poor sleep, high blood pressure, and many other well-known health concerns contribute to frequent headaches.

    But there is one other thing you might not think about: the weather.

    Yes, its impossible to escape Floridas rainy weather, but it is one of the biggest headache factors.

    The secret of humidity is barometric pressure, a measurement of the air and water pressure in the atmosphere at any given time. Air pressure is the force exerted by the weight of air over your head, while water pressure refers to the weight of water.

    Most migraine sufferers dont have any problem operating at consistently high or consistently low pressure. When pressure levels change suddenly, however, an attack becomes much more likely.

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