Summer means long days, warm nights, relaxing vacations — and, for many people, more migraine attacks.
A survey by the National Headache Foundation found that three out of four people with chronic headache or migraine said weather was a trigger for headache pain. Specific triggers include changes in humidity or temperature, storms, and dry or dusty conditions.
If your migraine attacks become more severe or more frequent in the summer, the first step is to identify exactly which triggers are affecting you. Keep a headache diary for at least three months that includes weather conditions, your activities, symptoms and details of migraine attacks. Once you detect a pattern, you can develop an action plan for migraine relief. Some tips include:
- Keep sleep patterns steady. In summer, you might rise earlier, go to sleep later, or even take a midday siesta. It feels so relaxing — but erratic sleep patterns can trigger a migraine attack. Try to stick to a regular bedtime and get up at the same hour each morning. If you’re not sleeping well, avoid too much artificial light in the evening, and keep your bedroom cool and dark.
- Stay hydrated. There’s a clearly defined connection between dehydration and migraine attacks — and drinking extra water may reduce the frequency of attacks. In one study, a group of people with migraine were told to drink six extra cups of water per day. While they averaged only four cups, those participants reported 21 fewer hours of pain in a two-week period, compared to the control group.
- Beat the heat. A study published in Neurology found a definite connection between summer heat and migraines: a 9-degree (Fahrenheit) increase in temperature correlated with a 7.5 percent increase in the likelihood of a serious migraine attack. To prevent migraines, it’s best to avoid the hottest part of the day, seek out cooler spaces and (again) drink lots of water.
- Monitor your stress levels. Have you ever experienced a “let-down migraine”? These attacks follow a period of stress or anxiety in life. Shortly after the stress eases, a migraine attack ensues. The only good thing about let-down migraines is that they can be predicted, which means you can plan around them. Your contingency plan for stress-induced migraines might include taking paid time off, lining up additional childcare, or simply practicing stress-reducing techniques. If you’re planning a big summer vacation, try not to schedule it immediately after a big project wraps up — or, if you must, then build in a buffer of a few days to let your body and brain decompress.
- Maintain your migraine prevention practice. Schedules have a way of fraying in the summer. Just remember that the migraine brain thrives on routine! Practice headache hygiene every week: moderate exercise, regular mealtimes, and predictable sleep.
CEFALY DUAL’s PREVENT program can become part of your summer migraine prevention plan, too. Use the 20-minute PREVENT program each day to desensitize the trigeminal nerve, which is heavily involved in the sensation of migraine pain. Compliant daily use is clinically proven to help prevent migraine attacks.