Seeing the seasons change can be a pleasant experience for many. But the appearance of autumn foliage, the first snowfall in winter, or spring rain, often signify atmospheric changes that could cause a rise in weather migraines.
For people who live with migraines, weather changes may sometimes be a trigger, especially if a sudden change occurs in humidity, dry or cold air, or barometric pressure. Other controllable triggers that operate concurrently with weather pattern changes may exist. Identifying these, and treating them, can reduce weather migraines risk.
Here is a guide to how the winter season may affect migraines—alongside tips to help with weather migraines treatment.
Several preventive year-round measures that reduce migraine attacks are also operative against seasonal triggers. For those who continuously suffer from weather migraines, monitoring sleep patterns, exercising, and keeping track of dietary intakes are ways to effectively reduce their symptoms.
For some, weather shifts may cause a chemical imbalance in the brain, including serotonin, known to cause migraines. A headache instigated by other triggers may sometimes worsen due to weather-related triggers.
During the fall, it gets windier, humidity decreases, and temperatures change. The days are generally shorter, which may cause you to change your sleep cycle. Inconsistency in your sleep patterns may trigger a migraine, so ensure you get sufficient sleep.
In summer, the warmth and humidity cause people to sweat more, which may cause dehydration if water intake isn’t monitored consciously. With typically longer days, again, sleep patterns change, a migraine trigger. Did you know that some people experience a headache at the beginning of a vacation due to ‘letting down stress’?
The spring brings atmospheric pressure changes due to the recurrent swings between showers and the sun. This season is problematic for those who suffer from allergies as allergens are on the rise.
What Can Trigger Them in Winter
Snowstorms, cold temperatures, and dry air typically mark the winter. While this weather season may generally provide relief from outdoor allergens, those in colder environments may struggle with hydration, a significant migraine attack contributor. Because people are likely to drink less water during winter, spend more time indoors where the air inclines to drier, alongside increased heating in the home, dehydration may occur. You can alleviate this by making sure to drink plenty of water. A humidifier may also help provide additional moisture in the house.
Reduced physical activity due to the cold weather and being more sedentary can end up causing a migraine. Unhealthy food choices have been associated with minimal exercising patterns, ultimately causing stress.
Another possible migraine trigger is the snowstorms that occur in winter as they have a connection to barometric pressure alterations. According to the National Health Service, these pressure fluctuations are thought to prompt electrical and chemical adjustments in the brain, irritating the nerves and causing a headache.
How the Symptoms Can Be Treated
Migraine treatments start by diarizing occurrences that you feel are triggers. These have been shown to include sleep quality, food choices, weather, reduced physical activity, medications taken and timings, and stress levels.
Suppose you have suffered from migraines for at least fifteen days in any given month. In that case, diarizing daily for three consecutive months will lead you to identify your possible triggers. In this diary, be sure to indicate even the slightest of details like foods you consumed. Some common triggers are caffeine, chocolate, foods with nitrates and MSG preservatives, etc.
Monitor your headache duration, time occurrence, and pain type, specifically where you feel the pain. Note down additional symptoms like sensitivity to bright light, smells or noise, and vomiting. Make a note of weather shifts like increased humidity, high winds, or storms. Also, take note of any treatments you took and whether they alleviated or worsened the headache.
A minority of migraineurs experience warning signs that a migraine is underway as early as forty-eight hours before the headache occurs. These warning signs are referred to as prodromal, which means precursory. They include feelings of excess excitability, depression, frequent yawning, and irritability.
While many people have medications that help to alleviate their symptoms once a migraine attack is ongoing, the best-case outcome is to avoid an attack from happening in the first place. The more you understand your migraine’s particular essence and its causes, the easier it can be to predict and stop.