Migraine sufferers know the summer months, especially, can wreck havoc on their heads.
Some people assume seasonal headaches are a myth. But doctors with the Cleveland Clinic say summer migraines aren’t purely imagined, or an old wives tale.
“Weather is a very important factor and element when it comes to migraine occurrence,” explained Emad Estemalik, MD, headache specialist for Cleveland Clinic. “Especially around seasonal changes. So as we’re going from winter, into spring, into summer, you have significant barometric pressure change.”
Barometric pressure is the measurement of air pressure in the atmosphere. It changes based on temperature, altitude, and moisture.
And as those conditions shift, like when a thunderstorm rolls in, the change can impact a person’s sinuses and cause a sudden migraine.
What sets migraines apart from regular headaches? A migraine is a much more extreme headache, described as more painful and more debilitating than a regular one. It is commonly connected to other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light, as well.
More than half (53 percent) of migraine sufferers say that weather changes often trigger their attacks.
A survey conducted by the National Headache Foundation identified seven triggers for weather-related migraine attacks.
- Temperature changes
- High humidity
- High winds
- Stormy weather
- Extremely dry conditions
- Bright lights and sun glare
- Barometric pressure changes
To decrease the chance of suffering a summer migraine, experts suggest the following:
Protect your eyes. Wear shades to avoid bright sunlight which might trigger an attack.
Stay hydrated, especially on a how day. Lack of water in the body weakens the entire system, and the stress may increase the likelihood of a migraine.
Watch the weather forecast. If you see a storm is coming that will translate into a drop in barometric pressure, don’t obsess, but do understand that it will likely trigger some sort of reaction in your sinuses.
The important takeaway is to understand that weather can be a trigger for migraine activity, and the key is to be mindful and try to get ahead of the headache.