As the weather changes, it is common for people to experience a wide range of symptoms. For migraineurs, these seasonal changes can be quite debilitating. According to CBS News, more than 70 percent of those who suffer from migraines experience attacks because of barometric pressure. Unfortunately, these weather-related migraines can be extremely painful and long-lasting for many individuals. This is why it is so important for migraine sufferers to find ways to get a better handle on these crippling attacks.
Triggers of Weather-Related Migraines
The weather is getting colder, and while it won’t be this way for long, migraineurs must find a way to get through the winter season as pain-free as possible. One of the main reasons migraines are worse during the cold winter months is because of high humidity and dry conditions. When these two things occur, it can cause dehydration, which is one of the most common migraine triggers. In addition to dehydration, let’s look at some of other weather-related migraine triggers:
● Bright sunlight (usually during warmer months)
● Extreme changes in heat and cold
● Sun glare (leading to photophobia)
● Windy, rainy, or stormy weather
● Changes in barometric pressure
● Dusty conditions
● Dramatic changes in temperature
While everyone is unique and has different migraine triggers, weather is a huge culprit for many. If you live somewhere with regular seasons, there’s a good chance you will notice more severe or frequent headaches as the temperatures drop and the air becomes cold and dry.
Changes in Weather Lead to Imbalances
I’ve talked in the past about the fact that weather is considered one of the top causes of migraine triggers, but most people also have other similarly related triggers that can wreak havoc. From smoky conditions to sudden altitude changes, there are many factors that can cause imbalances in the brain, resulting in a seriously painful migraine.
We’ve learned a lot about the why and how of migraines in recent years, and we now understand that chemical compounds like serotonin and specific hormones play a huge role for migraineurs. Some research indicates migraine pain occurs because of a wave of activity by groups of brain cells, leading to narrowed blood vessels and, in turn, painful migraines. For migraineurs that are sensitive to the weather, headaches may be worse in times of extreme temperature changes, even if another trigger was to blame initially.
Tips for Living with Migraines Due to Colder Weather
To prevent an exhausting and painful migraine during these colder months, consider these tips:
● Stay hydrated by drinking more water than you usually do
● Try to avoid exposure to bright light, extreme humidity, and dramatic temperature changes
● Prepare for the unexpected
● Avoid other triggers if possible
● Make healthy lifestyle choices
● Get plenty of sleep
● Control stress levels
I wanted to focus this blog on migraines caused by colder weather, but it is important to note other seasonal changes can also affect the prevalence and severity of migraines for many. I often encourage my patients to keep a migraine diary, making note of any noticeable symptoms as the seasons change. By gaining a clearer understanding of what some of your triggers are, you will be better equipped to tackle your migraine head on, no pun intended.