Summer is in full swing in Seattle. After a little bit of a slow start, I can tell we have hit the peak because email response speed drops from about 24 hours to ohh.. 8 or 9 days. You might have better luck catching someone via Facebook Messanger while they are uploading their vacation photos.
Unfortunately, not everyone enjoys the summer months. For some migraine sufferers, this is an especially difficult time of year, as their migraines are triggered and get worse during the summer season. So, why do summer migraines happen and what can be done about it? Well, that’s what we’ll be talking about in this article.
Many people have an uptick in their migraines during the summer season, as they are especially sensitive to the heat and swings in barometric pressure when summer storms roll through town. I used to be really sensitive to the brightness of the summer sun and avoided going out on bright days. The heavy air before a thunderstorm (I was living in the midwest at the time) was a guaranteed throbbing headache. Tree pollen and grass allergies also cause summer migraines, as do dehydration and over-hydration.
You can reduce the likelihood of summer migraines by following these 5 simple tips:
- Avoid dehydration or over-hydration: Keep a water bottle ready with you during the summer months to prevent dehydration, a potent cause of migraines. Also, this may sound unbelievable, but drinking too much water can also cause migraines. Learning to tune into your body’s needs and signals is key. Speak with your health coach if you need more guidance.
- Maintain consistent eating and sleeping patterns: People with chronic migraines don’t react well to changes in eating or sleeping times. Be consistent about when and what you eat and also, how much sleep you get. Lack of sleep or an altered sleep schedule can make you more sensitive to the bright light, pollen and other summer season triggers.
- Mix up your exercise routine: The long days and beautiful weather make it easier to exercise regularly during the summer months. However, try exercising in the early morning hours or in the evening when the sun isn’t so hot. Also, if working out outdoors triggers your migraine, do move your exercise routine indoors and work out on a treadmill, stationary bike or elliptical machine.
- Stay away from alcoholic beverages: Alcoholic beverages often trigger migraines due to the blood sugar swings, dehydration, depletion of key vitamins, sulfates and yeasts and the extra detoxification burden. If you are serious about avoiding a migraine and have been sensitive this year, reaching for that club soda with lime could make all the difference.
- Skip the crowded events: Sensory triggers abound at concerts or state fairs and can be overwhelming. Sweat odor, noise, hot temperatures and restricted airflow in crowded places can cause migraines…as you probably already know. If you have an important event coming up on Monday and can’t afford to be down for the count with a migraine, consider finding a more laid back plan for the weekend.
Bonus tip for people with summer “thunderstorm migraines” – I once had a very skilled massage therapist with a personal history of getting migraines herself. She was able to “loosen the fascia” around my skull, so that there was less constriction when the fluids around the brain and skull expanded and put pressure on the nerves before a thunderstorm. After just a few sessions I noticed a remarkable difference. I would highly recommend calling up massage therapists in your area and asking them specifically if they are familiar with this idea and any techniques specific to this issue.
These are some tips to prevent migraine attacks from occurring during the summer season. If avoiding crowds and cucumber mojitos is going to put a damper on your summer plans, we can talk about how to reduce internal stressors (like hormone imbalances or digestive issues) so that your overall level of inflammation and sensitivity goes down and you can tolerate more “fun”.
The key difference in my approach to migraine prevention is that avoiding triggers like we’ve talked about in this article is a temporary measure to get your headaches under control while we assess and tackle the real underlying causes that are making you more sensitive than your friend Susan who can go to the same outdoor concert, have two glasses of wine and not leave with a headache at all. Cool, huh?
Tried everything and still getting migraines?
A trained Migraine Freedom™ Coach can help!
Erin, I love these posts! My husband suffers from migraines (he gets them like clock-work right before a rainy or stormy day). I’ve been sharing all of your information and tips. Thanks so much for taking on such a very real problem for people!!
fortunately i don’t suffer from migraines, but i know several people who do. thank you for these useful tips. and i suspect your list may help with other physical (and perhaps even emotional) ailments as well. wise and healthy living. thanks, erin.
Really great tips – and avoiding overhydration makes sense but was somehow a very surprising one. This is all excellent advice for those who are even just headache prone or susceptible to overstimulation. Thanks so much!