While there is much to love about summer- longer days, outdoor picnics, trips to the beach, pool time and nighttime barbecues, summer months can also increase the risk of debilitating migraines. Hotter temperatures, barometric pressure changes, and high humidity make many migraine sufferers more susceptible to an attack.
What triggers migraines during the summer?
A host of factors make summer one of the worst seasons for migraine attacks. For example, dehydration, a common migraine trigger, is more likely to occur during the summer months when the weather is warm and during periods of profuse sweating where people lose more fluid than they take in.
Other factors may trigger migraines during the summer months, including:
• High humidity
• High winds
• Longer days (which can change sleeping patterns)
• Typical summer foods and drinks (hot dogs, bacon, sausage, soda, alcohol, pre-made sauces like BBQ sauce, chips, candy, etc.)
• Barometric pressure changes
But even though migraines often rob us of summer’s little pleasures, there are things you can do to minimize your risk and ward off triggers. Here are some helpful tips for avoiding migraines and headaches this summer:
Stay well hydrated.
For many migraine sufferers, even mild dehydration is the quickest way to a migraine attack. To avoid getting dehydrated while you are out and about, carry a water bottle with you at all times and drink 6 to 8 ounces every hour. Drinking water is not the only way to stay hydrated: fruits and veggies with high water content like grapes, watermelon, celery, and cucumber are fun and effective hydration options perfect for pool or beach days.
Many migraine sufferers are sensitive to light before, during, or even after an attack (photophobia). 85 to 90 percent of migraineurs experience photophobia which is why so many migraine sufferers seeking migraine relief, lie down in a dark room.
Some migraineurs swear by dark, polarized, tinted, or FL-41 lenses, but keep in mind that there is no right or wrong way of choosing sunglasses for your migraines. The perfect pair will be the one that sits comfortably on your face, provides adequate UV ray coverage, and reduces discomfort. It is important to choose frames with good eye-coverage that can help block light that comes from above, that comes from the side, and that causes glare that comes from the back.
You may also need to wear your sunglasses indoors to deal with fluorescent lights, computer screens, etc. However, wearing sunglasses indoors too much can lead to something called chronic dark adaptation, which can make your sensitivity to light even worse. If you have to wear sunglasses inside, be sure to take them off every hour or so to avoid getting chronic dark adaptation. Consider decreasing glare and brightness by turning off fluorescent lights or adjusting or tinting your computer screen.
Maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
With longer days and shorter nights, you probably find yourself going to bed later and waking up earlier than usual. Daylight hour changes can be very disruptive to sleeping routines; humans are wired to sleep after the sun sets and wake up when it rises. But during the summertime, the earth tilts on its axis ever so slightly, bringing more daylight hours to most places around the world.
Sleep deprivation is a potent migraine trigger, but you can avoid it by sticking to a regular sleeping schedule, making sure your room is dark, the temperature is pleasant, and limiting your sugar and caffeine consumption before bed.
Before you give in to the inevitability of waking up with a migraine, consider a natural sleep aide to help you reset your internal clock and ease back to sleep. Natural supplements with melatonin, valerian root extract, or magnesium are all safe and effective options.
Fragrance-loaded summer products like sunscreens are important to avoid if you are susceptible to this migraine trigger. Try to purchase fragrance-free products when possible.
Although summer is a carefree time of fun and relaxation, many people may experience what some call a “let-down” migraine because they occur on the first day of vacation or the start of a weekend. According to a study conducted by researchers at the Montefiore Headache Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University, in the first six hours of reduced stress, a person’s risk of getting a migraine attack increases nearly five times, an effect that lasts up to 24 hours. The researchers found that relaxation following heightened stress was an even more significant trigger for migraine attacks and reduced stress from one day to the next significantly increased risk of migraine onset on the following day.
It is important for people to be aware of rising stress levels and attempt to relax during periods of stress, rather than allowing a major build-up. Rising temperatures are also known to increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Practicing mindfulness or yoga and taking natural supplements to help maintain healthy levels of cortisol are great ways to manage stress and prevent migraines.
On-the-Spot Nutritional Support
If you are using MigreLief Original daily formula, don’t forget to pack it along on any trip you may be taking. It is available in a small travel-size bottle. Be sure to keep MigreLief-NOW close by, in your purse or backpack in case of emergencies for on-the-spot neurological comfort during difficult times.
Relax, enjoy your summer, and stay safe.
When your out and about this summer, remember to avoid heat-related illnesses. Avoid becoming overheated. While having fun and the sun, be sure to seek out shade occasionally, drink plenty of water and cool down by misting yourself with a spray bottle of water.