Migraine is a common neurological disorder that affects nearly one-third of the world's population. It is more prevalent in women than men and can cause significant disability. One of the most common migraine triggers is exposure to heat, whether it is from summer weather or hot flashes associated with menopause. This blog post will discuss the relationship between summer heat and migraines and ways to prevent migraine headaches in hot weather.
What is migraine and what are the common triggers for it?
Migraine is a chronic neurological condition characterized by recurrent episodes of intense headache, nausea, and sometimes vomiting. It may be associated with sensitivity to light and sound, as well as symptoms of confusion and cognitive impairment. Common migraine triggers include stress, sleep deprivation, certain foods, bright lights, or loud noises. The heat caused by hot summer weather can cause migraines in some people.
Can summer heat cause migraines?
Yes, the summer heat can trigger migraines in some people. It is thought that summer heat may act as a "trigger" for migraine by increasing blood flow to the head and reducing melatonin levels (a hormone involved in controlling sleep). Heat can also exacerbate existing migraine triggers such as stress, dehydration, or tiredness. Heat is especially a problem if you are living in humid climates, as this can add additional strain and contribute to the development of a migraine attack and heat-related illness.
What are the symptoms of a migraine headache caused by summer weather?
A migraine due to hot weather has several symptoms. It usually starts with a dull ache or throbbing pain on one side of the head, which may then spread to both sides. Accompanying this is nausea and vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, confusion, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, heat exhaustion symptoms, and severe headaches.
Other symptoms might be a feeling of tightness in the neck or shoulders, dizziness, sweating, and even visual disturbances such as seeing stars or flashes of light.
Due to these symptoms, you can also experience difficulty concentrating, reduced productivity, and mood swings.
In severe cases, it can lead to increased heart rate, heat stroke, rising body temperature, and other heat-related illnesses.
If you suffer from frequent headaches or migraine attacks, contact your doctor.
How do you prevent migraines in hot weather?
You can do several things to prevent summer heat from triggering migraines and treat headaches.
Drink plenty of fluids
Staying hydrated helps reduce the effects of summer heat. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day and avoid caffeinated or sugary drinks. Alcoholic drinks are also a no-no. Staying hydrated helps reduce the effects of summer heat and reduces the possibility of a heat headache and heat exhaustion.
Wear loose-fitting clothing
Tight clothing can lead to increased body temperature. Wearing lightweight and breathable clothing helps keep your body cool. Choose bright colors that reflect the sun's rays so you don't absorb too much heat from the summer sun. A wide-brimmed hat is also recommended to protect your face and neck from direct sunlight.
Try to stay in cool indoor spaces as much as possible when it's hot out. If you must be outdoors, wear light-colored clothing and a wide-brimmed hat to protect yourself from the sun. Use fans, air conditioners, or open windows to maintain a comfortable room temperature.
Avoid strenuous physical activity
When it's hot outside, opt for more moderate exercise instead to prevent a heat-related headache. When you do want to exercise, make sure you stay hydrated and wear light-colored breathable clothing.
Avoid other migraine triggers
Some summer activities, such as barbecues or swimming in chlorinated pools, may also be potential triggers for migraines. Pay attention to your environment and avoid potential triggers whenever possible.
What should you do if you experience a migraine?
If you experience a heat-induced migraine (summer migraines), you should take immediate action to reduce your symptoms.
Taking over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers such as ibuprofen or aspirin to reduce heat headaches
Placing a cold compress on the forehead, temples, and back of the neck for relief
Seek medical help if the headache persists for more than two days despite at-home measures
How to Keep your migraine medication cool in the summer?
Migraine medication like Emgality can degrade in the summer heat. To keep them safe, it is best to store them cool. You can achieve this by placing your medications in an insulated medication cooler from 4AllFamily with a cold pack or ice pack to keep the inside temperature down.
Never place your medication near a heat source, in a hot car, or direct sunlight. Keep it in the shade and cool.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are my migraines worse in the summer?
The summer heat can increase your body's temperature, which may lead to increased blood flow and reduced melatonin levels in the brain. This can lead to migraine attacks. Additionally, summer weather can exacerbate existing migraine triggers such as stress, dehydration, or fatigue.
Are there any natural remedies for preventing migraines during the summer months?
Yes, there are some natural remedies for summer migraines. These include drinking plenty of fluids, wearing loose-fitting clothing, keeping cool indoors, and avoiding strenuous physical activity. Additionally, essential oils such as lavender or peppermint oil may help reduce headache symptoms.
What are some tips for staying cool during summer weather?
Some tips for staying cool during summer weather include wearing loose-fitting clothing, drinking plenty of fluids, using fans or air conditioning to keep your environment cool, avoiding strenuous physical activity, and taking cold showers.
Summer heat and migraines often go hand in hand. While summer weather can make migraine symptoms worse, there are steps you can take to prevent summer migraines from occurring. Drinking plenty of fluids, wearing loose-fitting clothing, keeping cool indoors, avoiding strenuous physical activity, and taking OTC medications for pain relief are all ways to help decrease summer migraines. Additionally, seeking medical help if the headache persists for more than 2 days despite at-home measures is also essential. Taking these precautions and following your doctor's advice allows you to enjoy summer without worrying about summer heat and migraines.