Seasonal Migraine Triggers and The Weather

Marissa Newby

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So much depends on the weather, Migraines can tooAndrea Piacquadio

‘Tis the season, in many parts of the United States, for migraine sufferers to double up on treatments and precautions. If you suffer from migraines, you might have noticed that they can be triggered by the weather.

Autumn and Winter are not the only time that the weather can be a predictor of the kind of migraine day you are going to have. Many people report increased migraines in the Summer and Spring as well.

What Are The Possible Triggers?

According to the neurology journal Brain & Life, some specific triggers are seasonal. While these may not apply to everyone, here are some examples.

  • Temperature changes
  • High humidity
  • High winds
  • Stormy weather
  • Extremely dry conditions
  • Bright lights and sun glare
  • Barometric pressure changes

What triggers your migraine may be different from what triggers migraines in others. Regarding barometric pressure and measurable weather conditions, a primary study conducted in 2015 indicates that migraine sufferers feel a much greater impact from atmospheric pressure changes.

…patients with migraine experienced headaches associated with atmospheric pressure decrease at a significantly greater rate than patients with TTH. In addition, most of these migraines developed during periods of quite small pressure decrease from the standard atmospheric pressure

Others may find themselves triggered by bright sun or lights, in addition to having light sensitivity as a symptom. Summer can be brutal for light-sensitive migraineurs. In addition to the Summer sun, summer heat and humidity in certain areas can have an effect on migraine intervals. An emergency department study, conducted in 2017, found that there is an increase in migraine admissions during high-humidity and high-heat days. The findings suggest that there is likely a correlation to increased migraine frequency and intensity in these areas.

What Can Help?

If you are a migraine pro, you have probably heard you should keep a migraine journal or data log your migraines. But maybe you are not writing down the details that might help you identify triggers? Consider making a detailed log of each event and thinking more about external factors. We all know that stress, lack of sleep, and dietary issues can cause them but do you regularly log mowing the grass the day before? Do you consider that it is going to storm tomorrow and today you are having a terrible migraine?

Consider reviewing the weather forecast, including barometric pressures for the coming week, and planning accordingly. Log that information in your journal to help you keep track of the forecast. Carry sunglasses with you and seek shade when possible. Ensure that you hydrate properly with water and limit caffeine. Logging both of those intakes in your migraine journal can help you see where you might need to focus. Logging your sleep hours and quality and how you feel upon waking, and whether or not that might be affected by the weather can help as well.

Make sure that you can predict what you might need to treat your migraines throughout the week and carry it with you. Getting to work and realizing you do not have your medications, heating pad or massager can be rough. Ensure that you plan ahead. We can’t always stop the headache but we can make it tolerable.

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Marissa, a graduate safety practitioner and paramedic, has been writing and editing fiction and non-fiction work for 15 years. She delivers researched and sourced news concerning world events, public health, public safety and emergency management.

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