Why Weather Triggers Migraines
There may be different reasons for why certain weather events trigger Migraine. High humidity and extremely dry conditions may exacerbate dehydration, one of the most common and preventable Migraine triggers. Bright lights and sun glare activate a condition called among many people with Migraine.
Why lightning and barometric pressure are associated with Migraine isn’t completely understood. It may be that environmental changes that affect the body’s homeostasis or set-point may predispose someone to develop Migraine.
Headache specialist Dr. Vince Martin is the lead author on a handful of studies on weather-related Migraine. In an interview during the 2018 Migraine World Summit he explained:
“Rising barometric pressure can trigger a migraine attack in some individuals. Falling barometric pressure can trigger it in some individuals. But the two often do not cross. So generally speaking, you’re either sensitive to falls or you’re sensitive to rises but not both.
As for lightning, Dr. Martin and researchers suggest a couple of different theories. More study is needed on medical and natural remedies for headaches caused by weather.
What Are Some Ways I Can Prevent Migraine
The best way to prevent migraine is to find out what triggers your attacks and avoid or limit these triggers. Since migraine headaches are more common during times of stress, finding healthy ways to cut down on and cope with stress might help. Talk with your doctor about starting a fitness program or taking a class to learn relaxation skills.
Talk with your doctor if you need to take your pain-relief medicine more than twice a week. Doing so can lead to rebound headaches. If your doctor has prescribed medicine for you to help prevent migraine, take them exactly as prescribed. Ask what you should do if you miss a dose and how long you should take the medicine. Talk with your doctor if the amount of medicine you are prescribed is not helping your headaches.
Make Sure Your Home And Workspace Arent Triggering Migraine Attacks
We are seeing a lot of new patients who are experiencing headache for the first time because of changes that COVID-19 has caused, says Strauss. In addition to managing extra stress, many people are now working remotely from their home in a less-than-ideal, makeshift office setup.
Often, people set up their workspaces thinking this was going to be temporary, but the pandemic has gone on for a year now and may continue for a while, she says. Its a good idea to assess your situation, including where and how you sit most of the day, says Strauss.
If your job requires a lot of screen time, take periodic breaks. You also might look at reducing the brightness of your screen or switch your computer settings so that the background is black and the text is white, says Strauss.
Additional reporting by Diana Rodriguez.
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More Menstrual Migraine Prevention Tips
A few other things you can try at home to prevent menstrual migraines:
- Exercise every day. Moderate exercise, like a walk, bike ride, or swim, could help you have fewer migraine headaches and make them less intense. Be careful not to work out too hard, though. Sometimes strenuous exercise can trigger migraines.
- Get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. A lack of rest can set off migraine attacks.
- Relax. Stress leads to migraine for many people. Try techniques like deep breathing, yoga, and meditation to take the pressure off.
- Watch what you eat. Avoid foods that trigger your headaches. Some foods that are common migraine triggers include: chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, aspartame and other artificial sweeteners, processed meat, and cheeses.
- Graze throughout the day. Hunger can give you headaches. Eat several small meals and snacks instead of three big ones.
Are They Treated Differently
Not really. Experts aren’t sure what causes auras, so there’s nothing special you can do about them. It’s about treating the migraine symptoms and preventing more attacks.
To ease migraine symptoms:
- Stay in a quiet, dark room.
- Put cold compresses or pressure on the painful areas.
- Take pain-relieving medications such as aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen, ketorolac, or naproxen. People under the age of 19 should not take aspirin.
- Use prescription drugs, such as almotriptan , eletriptan , frovatriptan , lasmiditan , naratriptan , rizatriptan , and sumatriptan , which help narrow blood vessels.
- Ergots and gepants may also ease migraine pain.
- Use medications to treat other migraine symptoms such as nausea and vomiting.
To prevent migraines:
Medications. If other treatments donât work and you have 4 or more migraine days a month, your doctor may suggest preventive medicines. You take these regularly to make headaches less severe or less frequent. They include seizure medicines, blood pressure medicines , and some antidepressants. CGRP inhibitors are a new class of preventive medicine that your doctor may recommend if other medicines donât help.
Keep a headache diary. It will help you spot things that might trigger your migraines. Diary entries should include things like the date and time of your headache, any foods you had eaten, what you did, and medication you took just before the headache began. It may take 6 to 8 weeks or longer to begin to see patterns and triggers.
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What Happens During A Migraine
Every migraine begins differently. Sometimes people get a warning that a migraine is on its way. A few hours or even days before the actual headache, people might feel funny or “not right. They might crave different foods, or feel thirsty, irritable, tired, or even full of energy. This is called a “premonition.”
Some people get auras. These are neurological symptoms that start just before the headache and last up to an hour. An aura is different in every person, but it often affects vision. For example, a person might:
- have blurred vision
- see spots, colored balls, jagged lines, or bright flashing lights
- smell a certain odor
- feel tingling in a part of their face
Once the headache starts, light, smell, or sound may bother people with migraines or make them feel worse. Sometimes, if they try to continue with their usual routine, they may become nauseated and vomit. Often the pain begins only on one side of the head, but it might eventually affect both sides. Trying to do physical activities can make the pain worse.
Most migraines last from 30 minutes to several hours some can last a couple of days.
Steer Clear Of Triggering Smells And Sounds
Strong scents like cleaning products and cosmetics can trigger a migraine, and prolonged exposure to fumes can provoke them as well. If avoiding those triggers is not possible, you may find relief by using a nose plug, wearing an N95 mask, or applying a dab of peppermint oil to your forehead or temples.
Loud noises and certain sounds are also known to trigger migraines in some people, but maintaining a quiet environment is often easier said than done. Studies have shown that setting aside time for silent meditation can significantly reduce the frequency and severity of migraine attacks.Consider stepping away for 10 minutes of meditation when your senses feel overwhelmed.
Keep in mind that holding a phone to your ear for a long time or wearing headphones can result in a migraine as well. You may find it beneficial to use a speaker when you have prolonged phone calls or a day full of remote meetings.
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Can Stress Cause Migraines
Yes. Stress can trigger both migraine and tension-type headache. Events like getting married, moving to a new home, or having a baby can cause stress. But studies show that everyday stresses not major life changes cause most headaches. Juggling many roles, such as being a mother and wife, having a career, and financial pressures, can be daily stresses for women.
Making time for yourself and finding healthy ways to deal with stress are important. Some things you can do to help prevent or reduce stress include:
- Eating healthy foods
- Being active
- Doing relaxation exercises
- Getting enough sleep
Try to figure out what causes you to feel stressed. You may be able to cut out some of these stressors. For example, if driving to work is stressful, try taking the bus or subway. You can take this time to read or listen to music, rather than deal with traffic. For stressors you can’t avoid, keeping organized and doing as much as you can ahead of time will help you to feel in control.
Use Natural Dietary Supplements To Prevent Migraines
Natural dietary supplements, such as those indicated for migraine by the University of Michigan, are available over the counter at most pharmacies. It is best to discuss with your primary care doctor or neurologist before starting supplements for long-term use.
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Act As Soon As You Notice Any Migraine Symptoms
You can reduce the severity of your migraines by acting as soon as you notice any of these signs , according to the University of Michigan Medical School. Some pharmacological treatments help decrease your symptoms when you take them during the first signs of a migraine, according to the Cleveland Clinic. People with severe migraines may benefit from taking daily medications that reduce the frequency and severity of their episodes, the Cleveland Clinic also says.You can also try to reduce as many triggers as possible if you know a migraine is coming. For example, if things like specific foods, dehydration, and stress trigger your migraines, then you can do your best to pay close attention to your diet, drink more water, and practice relaxation techniques as soon as you experience prodromal symptoms.
Although you have less time to react to auras, you might be able to mitigate some of the discomfort by relaxing in a quiet, dark room if possible, according to the Mayo Clinic. The organization also recommends placing a cool cloth or a wrapped ice pack on your forehead or at the back of your neck if you can. Of course, there are times when you cant just take a break. You can only do what you can to avoid triggers and manage migraines to the best of your ability.
Use A Multidisciplinary Approach
I also tell my patients they have to take a holistic approach to managing migraine, Cowan says. I believe it takes a village to raze a headache, and this means using a multidisciplinary approach.
One way of doing this is to pay attention to your life. Cowan recommends, Dont let the clutter pile up. If you didnt sleep well one night, avoid wine that day.
He also adds, You cant live in a cave with migraine. You take the precautions you can, and then live your life.
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Have Consistent Lifestyle Habits
Migraine is a problem between you and your environment, says Cowan. And my migraine patients who do the best take their lifestyle habits seriously.
This means eating meals the same time every day and going to bed and waking up at the same time, Cowan adds. Be regular and consistent with your exercise. These are the things that set the patterns for the brain to know whats coming: sleep, wake up, eat, exercise.
Migraines hate change. Being consistent reassures your brain that everything is okay.
What Questions Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider
- Will my child grow out of their migraines?
- What medications do you recommend for me?
- What should I change about my lifestyle to prevent my migraine headaches?
- Should I get tested?
- What type of migraine do I have?
- What can my friends and family do to help?
- Are my migraines considered chronic?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Migraine headaches can be devastating and make it impossible to go to work, school or experience other daily activities. Fortunately, there are some ways to possibly prevent a migraine and other ways to help you manage and endure the symptoms. Work with your healthcare provider to keep migraines from ruling your life.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 03/03/2021.
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Can Herbal Products Or Dietary Supplements Prevent Migraines
A number of herbal products and dietary supplements are available for the prevention of migraines. These include, in particular, coenzyme Q10, magnesium, feverfew, butterbur and riboflavin .
There is a lack of conclusive in this area, so it’s not possible to say whether these products can prevent migraines. Some studies suggest that magnesium and a certain feverfew extract can reduce the number of migraine attacks. But the quality of these studies isn’t good enough to prove that these products have a preventive effect.
Although dietary supplements and herbal medicinal products are often considered to be well tolerated and safe, they may still have side effects. For instance, feverfew extracts can cause gastrointestinal problems. These products can also lead to drug-drug interactions with other medications.
How Can I Prevent Migraines
Having a migraine headache is a pain known only to those who suffer from them. When you have a migraine, everything hurts, and all you want to do is crawl under a dark rock and sleep. There are pills designed to specifically ease the pain of migraines, but it is now believed that prevention is better than a cure.
There are a few factors to remember if you wish to prevent migraines. The first factor is to try and figure out what exactly is causing your migraine. Recognizing when your migraines occur and what is setting them off will be a major help. These are called migraine triggers, and they are different in each person.
As you recognize the pattern that your migraines are taking, it should be easier to prevent migraines from occurring. The best time to prevent migraines is just before they occur this is when administering the drugs will be of most help. However, avoiding the trigger situations will also help prevent migraines.
Many migraines are caused by the lifestyles we lead. Common causes of migraines are stress, lack or excess of sleep, and too much caffeine and nicotine. The menstrual cycle can also be a trigger for migraines in women. Depression, alcohol, dieting, certain foods, bright lights, and even smells can all set off migraines.
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Do Your Best To Destress
Yeah, we know: That isnt always the easiest thing to accomplish. But it makes sense to figure out how to fit some calm into your day. Stress is one of the most reported triggers for migrainewe think because it causes a change in chemicals and hormones in the body, says Dr. Natbony. Stress can cause migraine and migraine can cause more stress, leading to an almost endless cycle. And if your body is accustomed to constant stress, a day without it can result in a let down migraine when your stress level abruptly drops. So find your own personal road to peace whether thats meditation, a yoga class, a hot bath or some quiet reading time and do that thing regularly.
Whats A Migraine Journal
- Keeping a migraine journal is not only beneficial to you, but it helps your healthcare provider with the diagnosis process. Your journal should be detailed and updated as much as possible before, during and after a migraine attack. Consider keeping track of the following:
- The date and time of when the migraine began specifically when the prodrome started, if youre able to tell its happening. Track time passing. When did the aura phase begin? The headache? The postdrome? Do your best to tell what stage youre in and how long it lasts. If theres a pattern, that may help you anticipate what will happen in the future.
- What are your symptoms? Be specific.
- Note how many hours of sleep you got the night before it happened and your stress level. Whats causing your stress?
- Note the weather.
- Log your food and water intake. Did you eat something that triggered the migraine? Did you miss a meal?
- Describe the type of pain and rate it on a one to 10 scale with 10 being the worst pain youve ever experienced.
- Where is the pain located? One side of your head? Your jaw? Your eye?
- List all of the medications you took. This includes any daily prescriptions, any supplements and any pain medication you took.
- How did you try to treat your migraine, and did it work? What medicine did you take, at what dosage, at what time?
- Consider other triggers. Maybe you played basketball in the sunlight? Maybe you watched a movie that had flashing lights? If youre a woman, are you on your period?
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Can Migraines Be Prevented Or Avoided
Medicine to prevent migraines may be helpful if your headaches happen more than 2 times a month. You may want to consider this medicine if your headaches make it hard for you to work and function. These medicines are taken every day, whether you have a headache or not.
Preventive medications for migraines can include prescription drugs often used to treat other ailments. Anti-seizure medicines, antidepressants, medicines to lower blood pressure, and even Botox injections are some of the preventive medications your doctor may prescribe. Calcitonin gene-related peptide inhibitors can also help prevent migraines. They do so by blocking a gene-related peptide in your sensory nerves. This peptide is known to increase during a migraine attack, so blocking it can help prevent migraines.
There are also a number of non-medical treatments designed to help minimize migraine pain and frequency. One is an electrical stimulation device, which has been approved by the FDA. It is a headband that you wear once a day for 20 minutes to stimulate the nerve linked to migraines. Another non-medical treatment is counseling aimed at helping you feel in more control of your migraines. This counseling works best when paired with medical prevention of migraines, as well.