Understanding your summer migraines
If you’ve ever had a migraine, you might be hesitant to classify it as merely another headache. The difference between a headache and a migraine is like the difference between playing touch and tackle football.
Unfortunately, the summer can be the worst season for people with migraines. This is because many migraine triggers are present and escalate during this time. Learning more about your specific triggers and what you can do to avoid or diminish these triggers may help you reduce the occurrence, duration or intensity of an attack.
What is a migraine?
A migraine is not a secondary headache that results from some other medical condition. It is a debilitating neurological disease. According to the Cleveland Clinic, migraines are hereditary. Roughly 80% of people who suffer from migraines “have a first-degree relative with the disease.”
What are the symptoms of a migraine?
There are four stages to a migraine: prodrome, aura, attack and post-drome. Not everyone goes through all four stages or experiences them in the same way. The Mayo Clinic states that, depending on the stage, symptoms can range from such seemingly benign things as food cravings and frequent yawning to alarming changes, such as vision loss and numbness on one side of the body.
The attack can last from 4 hours to several days and may include sensitivity to light, noises and odors as well as dizziness, sweating, chills, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision and more.
What are common migraine triggers?
One of the problems with migraines is the vast scope of potential triggers. Whereas an allergy results from something specific, a migraine can be brought on by anything from a computer screen to a change in barometric pressure. Some of the common triggers can be:
- Emotional stress
- Skipping a meal
- Salty foods
- Processed foods
- Food additives
- Daily use of pain medicine
- Hormonal changes
- Exposure to allergens
- Changing weather
- Physical exertion
- Loud noises
- Strong odors
- Changes to sleep patterns
Why are migraines worse in the summer?
While any time of year can be bad, summer is the perfect storm for migraine sufferers. Many of the triggers are much more prevalent during these warmer months. Heat, bright sunlight, allergens, intense storms, changing barometric pressure, dehydration, physical exertion, sinus issues and more are all conditions that can bring about a migraine attack.
What helps with migraines?
Too many people suffer needlessly because they try to self-treat migraines. It is crucial to see a doctor if you have abrupt or chronic headaches or new headache pain. Additionally, the following practices may help reduce the frequency of occurrences.
Turn off the lights
Shut off the lights, put down your screen and turn off the TV.
Find a quiet space where you can listen to relaxing sounds and meditate to reduce the stress that may trigger a migraine.
Use temperature therapy
Get enough sleep
Establish a bedtime routine. Strive to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every night.
Eat with intention
Be careful of mindless eating because that often involves salty or processed foods that can trigger an attack.
Get regular exercise
With your doctor’s approval, start a moderate but regular aerobic exercise routine.
Keep a migraine journal
If you can pinpoint what triggers your migraine attacks, you can learn to gradually expose yourself to these triggers to reduce their impact on your health. According to the Mayo Clinic, avoiding triggers completely may increase your sensitivity to them, so the best approach is to learn how to cope with triggers through gradual exposure.
Products that may help with summer migraines
You can place this reusable hot/cold pack in the microwave or freezer to provide the relief you need. It is made to stay flexible, even when frozen, so you can apply it wherever you need it. The soft-touch vinyl is comfortable and easy to clean. Sold by iReliev
The Pure Enrichment heating pad has a unique design that cradles your neck in warmth to provide relief. It has four settings so you can customize the pad to your comfort level, and the automatic shut-off keeps the wrap from overheating. Sold by Amazon, Kohl’s and Macy’s
This white noise machine can provide the soothing background you need to escape the stress of the day and stave off a migraine. It also provides a cozy aural blanket that lets you sleep better at night. Sold by Amazon
One of the most common migraine triggers or irritants is bright light. To help combat this, try Asutra’s silk eye pillow. It not only keeps light from aggravating your senses, but you can also place it in the refrigerator to provide cold therapy treatment. Sold by Amazon
Migraines can be debilitating. A smart speaker lets you control your environment without getting up. With an Echo Dot, you can shut off the lights, lower the thermostat and turn down the volume of the TV without even opening your eyes. Sold by Amazon, Kohl’s and Staples
Getting better sleep is one way to help protect yourself against migraines. The Hatch Sunrise Alarm Clock allows you to drift off and wake up naturally, thanks to its gradually changing light. Sold by Amazon
If your doctor agrees that exercise is best for you, Schwinn’s recumbent bike is a low-impact way to get those benefits. It offers 25 levels of resistance, so you can work out as hard or as gentle as you’d like. Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods
If you are going to keep a journal, do it in style. This hardcover offering is rugged, comes in various colors and opens flat to make writing and reading easier. It has 251 dotted pages to help keep your entries neat and organized. Sold by Amazon
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