With summer’s arrival come many wonderful things like breaks in school, adventurous vacations, and lots of fun in the sun. However, for some, summer’s heat brings out something not so enjoyable—migraine headaches. While migraines can attack at any time, many sufferers find them more frequent during the summer due things like higher temperatures, barometric pressure flux, and more. So how exactly can one combat the painful symptoms of a migraine? To answer that question, it is important to distinguish what exactly a migraine is and what your triggers are.
The definition of a migraine is “a headache [that] can cause intense throbbing or a pulsing sensation in one area of the head and is commonly accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and extreme sensitivity to light and sound”. It is different than a headache as the severity is more intense, usually focused in a specific area of the head, and is associated with more problematic symptoms. Some who suffer from migraines experience sensations before he or she gets a migraine known as an “aura”. Those who get migraine headaches with an aura usually sense them about 15-30 minutes before the headache onset. These auras can include symptoms such as seeing visual floaters or unusual light, feelings of being less conscious, and tingling in the extremities.
While there is no “cure” for headaches, identifying what triggers your migraine could aid in finding relief from the painful symptoms it brings on. Some triggers may include:
- Dehydration: In the peak of summer, temperatures can reach staggering heights. It can cause heavy sweating which can drain your body of necessary fluids to keep yourself cool. Therefore, it is important to drink plenty of water to keep your body from overheating and triggering a migraine.
- Summer heat: Insuring you have ample shade turning hot summer days may the answer to stopping your migraine in its tracks. Changes in body temperature can be fuel to your headache’s fire. Therefore, try bringing an umbrella with you to the beach, wearing a wide brimmed hat, and spending time under an awning or tent during the sun’s highest hours in the sky.
- Light sensitivity: Some patients who experience migraine report having intense sensitivity to bright light. During the summer, this can be a problem as days are longer and are generally filled with lots of sunshine. To counteract this issue, try wearing heavily tinted sunglasses while driving or outdoors. It might also be good practice to avoid brightly lit venues, such as sporting events or shopping malls, as fluorescents can also trigger your headache.
- Alcohol: Summer is a season filled with lots of parties, barbecues, picnics, and hang outs. You might be tempted to crack open a beer or slurp down a frothy margarita. However, alcohol might create or intensify headache symptoms, causing a migraine to sprout up. If alcohol is a trigger for you, try making some fun and tasty non-alcoholic beverages to share with everyone. That way you can still participate with everyone without the worry of a headache ruining the fun!
Over the counter medications might also assist with decreasing migraine pain and pressure, such as Advil (ibuprofen), Tylenol (acetaminophen), and Excedrin (aspirin). Other remedies include taking daily supplements, making dietary changes, and adding exercise—all of which should be discussed with your primary doctor before implementing.
Migraines are an unfortunate part of life for some, but it doesn’t have to mean a permanent summer bummer. With these keys to prevention and treatment, migraine headaches don’t stand a chance. Try some out for yourself this season and see the positive change it may bring!