Painful Summer: Migraine Triggers Bring A Season Of Misery For Many
Seasonal triggers can send many into cascade of severe pain and nausea.
Grammies Reporter Serene Branson Speaks Out
July 5, 2011 — It’s a difficult time of year for frequent migraine sufferer Nancy Scuri. Certain weather and atmospheric factors affect her sinuses, which, in turn, trigger her debilitating headaches.
“If a storm comes in where barometric pressure changes, that can affect me and set off a migraine,” she said. “I also have an allergy to tree pollen, which affects my sinuses and breathing.”
The tree pollen season has nearly ended but summer still brings plenty of storms that can come at any time.
“I constantly watch the Weather Channel,” Scuri, 43, said.
Scuri of Hauppauge, N.Y., isn’t the only one who gets more frequent migraines during the summer. Experts say there are numerous triggers that can make summer an especially painful time of year for many people prone to migraines. Some research has suggested that summer is the worst time of year, but experts say it really depends on what factors set off migraines.
“Some people do experience more migraines in the summer but, for others, the winter is worse,” said Dr. Joel Saper, founder and director of the Michigan Headache and Neurological Institute in Ann Arbor.
Those who suffer in the summer might experience a migraine when exposed to some of these common triggers:
Losing a lot of water and sodium through sweating can trigger migraines.
Lazy Days of Summer
What Is The Outlook For People With Migraines
Theres no cure for migraines. The symptoms generally last between four and 72 hours when theyre left untreated.
Many people experience fewer headaches as they get older. Women who experience menstrual-related migraines may find that their symptoms improve when they reach menopause.
Its important to address the problem and not hope it will just go away. For some, occasional migraines can recur more and more often, eventually becoming chronic. Work with your doctor to find ways to prevent and treat migraines before the problem gets worse.
The best treatment for migraines is to prevent them before they start. If exercise is one of your migraine triggers, you dont have to give up exercise. Here are some tips to help you prevent or reduce exercise-induced migraines.
What Are The Symptoms Of Migraine
The main symptoms of migraine are an intense, throbbing or pounding headache often affecting the front or one side of the head, nausea and sometimes vomiting , and an increased sensitivity to light smells and sound. The throbbing headache is often made worse by the person moving.
Other symptoms of migraine might include poor concentration, feeling hot or cold, perspiration , and an increased need to pass urine. This can occur before, during or after the migraine attack.
People might also experience stomach aches and diarrhoea.
It is common for people to feel tired for up to two or three days after a migraine.
Recommended Reading: Migraine Medicine Without Caffeine
The Difference Between Headaches And Migraines
People often tend to lump headaches and migraines into the same bucket, says headache specialist Jennifer Kriegler, MD. Many think migraines are just really bad headaches, which is not altogether true, she says. Headaches and migraines can have different causes.
Headaches of any level of pain can be symptoms of a migraine attack, but a migraine is actually a neurological disease or brain imbalance that causes a lot of other symptoms in addition to headaches.
These include sensitivity to light, nausea and vomiting, stomach upset, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, dizziness, blurred vision, numbness, tingling or weakness in rare cases.
Migraine episodes result from different signals interacting with your brain, blood vessels and surrounding nerves which cause any of the symptoms above. During a migraine headache in particular, specific nerves of the blood vessels are activated and send pain signals to the brain.
Preventative Medication And Therapies
If you experience frequent migraines, your GP might discuss preventative medication options with you.
It is important to note that preventatives for migraines are not pain medication, but help to reduce the number of migraines. They take time to work, so the minimum time period required may be three to six months. Contact your GP or specialist for further information. All of these treatments have their advantages and disadvantages and some of the medications might not be suitable for everybody.
You might find that this medication reduces the frequency and severity of your attacks but does not stop them completely. You will need to continue your other migraine treatments when you experience an attack.
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends that GPs and specialists should consider the following drugs and therapies if they think you might benefit from preventative treatment:
Beta blocking drugs
These drugs are traditionally used to treat angina and high blood pressure. It has been found that certain beta-blockers prevent migraine attacks. Beta-blockers are unsuitable for people with certain conditions.
This drug is typically prescribed for the treatment of epilepsy but has also been found to help reduce the frequency of migraines. Again, it is not suitable for everyone. In particular, women who are pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant should be advised of the associated side effects.
Botulinum toxin type A
Read Also: Excedrin Product Locator Tool
Do You Get Headaches During The Summer Your Summer Headaches And Dizziness Might Not Be Dehydration Problems They Might Be Mechanical Blood Flow Problems You Need To Understand Core Blood Flow Issues In Order To Stay Healthy And Safe During Brutal Summers In The Desert
From June through September we live in constant heat over 100 degrees. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures will magnify any subtle blood pressure regulation problems that you might have developed leading to worsening oxygen levels in the brain. Inadequate oxygen to the brain will cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, as well as increased or insatiable hunger and thirst, anxiety, and fatigue.
Blood pressure medicine does not fix these problems they are very different from hypertension . Common blood pressure medications will often lower the blood pressure and oxygen delivery to the brain and thereby make headaches and dizziness symptoms worse.
Your brain needs a steady flow of blood to transport oxygen upwards into the brain, so that the brain has enough power to think and operate your body efficiently. The brains powerful demand for oxygen from the blood supply is regulated through the autonomic nervous system .
Feeling Colder During Migraine
I never thought of hypothermia as a migraine symptom, but I knew several of my attacks came with a sensation of cold. I just could not warm up sometimes. Id be sitting there actually shivering. I didnt have a fever I was just experiencing a cold sensation right to my core. During these attacks, I would switch from ice packs to heat. I would be bundled up with blankets and retreat to my room. This symptom always freaked me out because it was so far from my norm. Needless to say, I was once again relieved to find cases of people suffering from migraine who also were experiencing hypothermia! I immediately felt validated after reading over the cases. I had found that my body temperature issues were not just in my head.
Don’t Miss: How To Beat Migraines Naturally
Why Do I Get A Headaches In The Back Of My Head
Ask U.S. doctors your own question and get educational, text answers â it’s anonymous and free!
Ask U.S. doctors your own question and get educational, text answers â it’s anonymous and free!
HealthTap doctors are based in the U.S., board certified, and available by text or video.
Ways To Ward Off Headaches
Weather is certainly not the only reason we get headaches. Stress, specific over-the-counter medicines like analgesics or pain killers, hormonal triggers and certain disorders related to sleep for example may also be causes, Dr. Kriegler says.
And while you cant control the weather, you can take steps to minimize the your risk, severity and treatment of a headache or migraine attack by following some best practices.
Read Also: Faking A Migraine
Other Types Of Headaches
Doctors have diagnosed hundreds of conditions associated with headaches. Here are just a few:
Medication headaches. Many drugs number headaches among their side effects. And although it seems paradoxical, many medications used to treat headaches can also cause medication overuse headaches or rebound headaches. Migraine sufferers are particularly vulnerable to a vicious cycle of pain leading to more medication, which triggers more pain. If you have frequent headaches and use medication, OTC or prescription, or both, for more than 10 to 15 days a month, you may have medication overuse headaches. The way to find out is to discontinue or taper your medication but always consult your doctor first. A corticosteroid such as prednisone may help control pain during the withdrawal period.
Sinus headaches. Acute sinusitis causes pain over the forehead, around the nose and eyes, over the cheeks, or in the upper teeth. Stooping forward increases the pain. Thick nasal discharge, congestion, and fever pinpoint the problem to the sinuses. When the acute infection resolves, the pain disappears. Sinusitis is not a common cause of chronic or recurrent headaches.
Ice cream headaches. Some people develop sharp, sudden headache pain when they eat anything cold. The pain is over in less than a minute, even if you keep eating. If you are bothered by ice cream headaches, try eating slowly and warming the cold food at the front of your mouth before you swallow it.
Dont Get Caught Without Your Sunglasses
Summer can be tough on the eyes. Invest in some good sunglasses. Polarized lenses are great because, in addition to darkening, they cut glare. If you can go for optical grade lenses, do. They arent as likely to produce distortion as inexpensive sunglasses. Still troubled by light from around your glasses? Try a baseball cap or another type of hat to block out the sun that comes in from above the sunglasses.
Don’t Miss: Pregnancy Headache Cures
Headaches And Autonomic Damage
Most of the time we are unaware when we suffer an autonomic nervous system injury. Autonomic damage does not appear on an MRI, CT Scan, or show up in our yearly blood work. I routinely screen for these types of nervous system injuries in my office. I have learned how to test and pinpoint the exact damage to the nervous system, and then work to medically repair the damage and restore normal function.
Living in the desert or hot climates has many perks, but most people do not realize that being alerted to autonomic damage is one of those perks. Being able to identify and reverse these types of nervous system injuries will help reduce your systematic metabolic inflammation. Reducing metabolic inflammation is critical to your long-term health because it is most effective way to reverse the onset or progression of a life-ending disease.
Try Theraspecs Outdoor Sunglasses
If a quality pair of polarized sunglasses are not enough, exposure to the blue light of the sun may be the culprit. To combat it, you can purchase a pair of tinted TheraSpecs FL-41 sunglasses. These not only remove a high proportion of all light like normal sunglasses, but they also remove the most painful wavelengths. TheraSpecs frame styles also add many protective features, making them a great remedy for headaches that result from too much sun exposure.
Recommended Reading: Migraine With Chills
Reasons Why You Get Headaches When The Heater Is On
Have you ever asked yourself Why do I get headaches when the heater is on? Have you noticed you tend to get more headaches in the winter months? Is it possible your headaches seem to be triggered when you turn your heater on? Can central heating make you cough or cause a sore throat? Here we explain the connection between your HVAC system and headaches, with four reasons why you could be getting headaches and other symptoms like cough and sore throats when your heater is on.
When To See A Doctor
A person should see their doctor if they experience frequent headaches. Frequent headaches may be a sign of an underlying health condition.
If a person experiences a migraine headache for the first time or notices any changes in their frequency, they should see a doctor.
When a person is displaying symptoms of heatstroke, someone with them should contact 911 right away. Symptoms to watch for include:
Read Also: Migraine Be Koool
Take Your Migraine Medication
Numerous studies have shown that treating the underlying condition will help alleviate many of the corresponding symptoms. Taking your migraine medication, especially in the early stages of an attack, can often keep the sunlight, your headaches and other issues at bay.
1Vijayan, N., Gould, S. and Watson, C. , Exposure to Sun and Precipitation of Migraine. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 20: 4243. doi:10.1111/j.1526-4610.1980.hed2001042.x
2Vanagaite J, Pareja JA, Støren O, White LR, Sand T, Stovner LJ. Light-induced discomfort and pain in migraine. Cephalalgia. 1997 Nov 17:733-41.
3Hoffmann J, Recober A. Migraine and triggers: Post hoc ergo propter hoc? Current pain and headache reports. 2013 17:10.1007/s11916-013-0370-7. doi:10.1007/s11916-013-0370-7.
4Main A, Vlachonikolis I, Dowson A. The wavelength of light causing photophobia in migraine and tension-type headache between attacks. Headache. 2000 Mar 40:194-9.
5Bekkelund SI, Hindberg K, Bashari H, Godtliebsen F, Alstadhaug KB. Sun-induced migraine attacks in an Arctic population. Cephalalgia. 2011 Jul 31:992-8. doi: 10.1177/0333102411409071. Epub 2011 May 31.
What Is A Migraine
A migraine is not simply a bad headache. A migraine is an intense headache that may be accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea , vomiting , visual problems and an increased sensitivity to light or sound.
Migraines commonly last between four hours and three days. Some people experience migraines several times a week. Others might only experience attacks every few years. If you experience headaches on 15 days or more each month, and eight of these headaches are migraines, this is known as chronic migraine.
Although migraines are not life-threatening and do not shorten peoples life expectancies, they can significantly damage the quality of peoples lives. A World Health Organisation study identified migraine as the sixth highest cause worldwide of years lost due to disability . Repeated migraines can have a negative impact on family life, social life and employment.
There are two main types of migraine: migraine without aura and migraine with aura .
Don’t Miss: How To Get A Migraine
Keep Your Meds Cool Too
It’s important to keep your Migraine medications from going bad. Be sure to store them in climate-controlled, cool, dark places.
Never leave them in an area that can get hot, such as your car or windowsill. It’s easy to forget that you have your pill bottle in your purse and to leave it in your car. It can quickly become overheated and negatively affect the efficacy of your meds.
How To Manage Weather
June is Awareness Month, and many people with migraines say that weather changes trigger headachesespecially extreme heat.
“Migraine is a prime example of a neurologic condition with environmental triggers,” says Orrin Devinsky, M.D., a neurologist at New York University and a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology. “Foods are often considered the main trigger, but weather may be an underappreciated factor. For many people with migraine, recognizing their own triggerssuch as food or sleep deprivationcan be one of the most effective forms of prevention,” he says.
According to a recent survey by the National Foundation, specific weather triggers may include:
- Temperature changes
- Bright lights and sun glare
- Barometric pressure changes
Some experts suggest that people with frequent headaches, including migraine, have a lower threshold for pain or are more sensitive to changes in the environment, including weather. On the other hand, several objective studies do not show a consistent association between weather changes and migraine. : 941-52)
Don’t Miss: Can Antibiotics Cause Headache
Why Your Migraines Are Worse In Hot Weather
If youve ever suffered a migraine, youll know theyre so much more than just an annoying headache.
Youll also be feeling some dread at the prospect of a heatwave, because, yes, hot weather can make migraines not only more common, but even more awful.
Why is that? And how can migraine-sufferers deal with the heat?
Parvinder Sagoo, clinical advisor at Simply Meds, explains: Heat may trigger migraines more frequently in some sufferers and not in others.
Migraine triggers include stress, hormone changes, food, drinks, sleeping patterns, bright lights and weather changes. It is possible changes in weather pressure cause the onset of a migraine attack.
Part of the reason hot weather increases the likelihood of a migraine is the stress heat puts the body under.
When its hot, our body has to work hard to maintain a safe temperature, meaning our heart rate increases and everything can go into overdrive.
Increased sweating in hot weather can lead to dehydration. If youre not prone to migraines, you might experience headaches, tiredness, muscle pain, dizziness, and nausea, but if you are, youll experience all of these with the double whammy of all your usual migraine symptoms, too.
Then you add in all the ways hot weather changes our lifestyle habits and overall health, which can in turn make migraines more likely to occur and more intense when they do.