People who enjoy the summer months often anticipate relaxing days at the beach or enjoying outdoor barbecues with family and friends. However, some people find themselves mystified as to why these events always seem to bring on a migraine headache. If this has frequently been your experience, it’s not just your imagination. There are legitimate physiological factors that lead migraine headaches to occur more often in the summer.

Chronic Migraines in the Summer

Changes in Barometric Pressure 

Migraine sufferers often experience more headaches as the season changes from spring to summer, and then again, as temperatures wane in the fall. This is because the change in seasons also changes the outdoor barometric (air) pressure. These changes in air pressure can irritate a person’s sinuses. In turn, chronically irritated sinuses can bring on a migraine headache.

Dehydration

It’s all too easy to get dehydrated in the summer, especially during exercise. Although, dehydration can also occur in those who spend a lot of time in air-conditioned environments. If you become dehydrated, your body experiences an imbalance in critical electrolytes such as

  • Sodium
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium

 Without sufficient fluids and a good balance of electrolytes, a migraine headache is much more likely to occur.

Heat and Humidity

As outdoor temperatures increase, so does a person’s body temperature, especially with exertion. Changes in body temperature are known to bring about migraine headaches.

Of course, an increase in heat and humidity often occurs at the same time. As humidity levels rise, it’s not uncommon for smells to become more pronounced. Since migraine sufferers are often triggered by changes in sensory experiences, pronounced odors can bring on a migraine attack.

Alcohol

Summer often brings with it more opportunities for social gatherings that include alcohol. Whether it’s celebrating a college graduation or attending a barbecue on Independence Day, a migraine sufferer is much more likely to experience a headache if they include alcoholic beverages in their celebration.

Bug Sprays and Lotions

The summer months often mean frequent use of bug sprays, sunscreen lotions, sunburn relief ointments, etc. For those prone to migraines, even being around those who apply these types of products to their own skin can bring on a migraine. Especially during the summer, it’s important to select unscented skin and hair care products for you and your family.

Allergies  

People with (outdoor) allergies may notice an increase in migraine headaches during the summer. The body’s reaction to exposure to allergens is inflammation. This increase in inflammation helps to create the ideal environment for a migraine headache. 

Increased Sunlight Exposure 

Last but not least, the increase in sunlight exposure during the summer months can also bring on a migraine. Sensitivity to light is one of the most common triggers behind migraines.

How to Manage the Summer Months

For migraine sufferers, successfully managing the summer months involves planning ahead and developing the right habits that will decrease the likelihood of developing a migraine. Helpful habits to cultivate during the summer months include

  • Wearing sunglasses every day
  • Wearing a hat with a broad brim when outdoors
  • Ensuring access to water and/or electrolyte drinks at all times
  • Avoidance of perfumes, heavily scented sunscreen lotions, bug sprays, etc.
  • Speaking to your physician about treating any allergies
  • Avoiding alcohol 
  • Avoid getting excessively overheated 

The more of these habits you incorporate into your daily summertime routine, the more you’ll decrease the stressors (triggers) that will lead to a migraine headache.

Please contact us if you’d like to know more about managing migraine symptoms.

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