Greeting a new season can be a fun experience for many people. But for those with chronic migraines, the arrival of a new season may be anything but a joyous occasion.
Be it summer, spring, winter, or fall, some migraine sufferers can experience an uptick in the severity and frequency of their migraine headaches. But why does this happen?
To answer this question, this guide from Aculief goes in-depth into what triggers migraines and what the changing seasons have to do with it. And to help you find relief, we discuss medication-free prevention strategies.
What Are Seasonal Migraines?
A migraine is a type of headache that’s marked by severe throbbing on one side of the head. It can be accompanied by symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.
A seasonal migraine is quite simply a migraine that’s triggered by seasonal changes — this can include any season.
However, keep in mind: A seasonal migraine isn’t triggered by changes in seasons per se, but by the factors that accompany seasonal changes.
Can Migraines Really Be Caused By Seasonal Changes?
We’re all familiar with common migraine triggers, such as stress, high alcohol consumption, and changes in sleep patterns. But seasonal changes are reported as just as significant of a trigger, with more than half of migraine sufferers experiencing worse headaches at the start of a new season.
While it has a lot to do with where you’re located, changing seasons usually bring new weather, which means temperature changes, decreasing (or increasing) sunlight, and an increase in tree pollen. These are all commonly-recognized migraine triggers, which makes it hardly surprising that migraine sufferers have worse outcomes during a new season.
When Do Seasonal Migraines Happen?
Seasonal migraines can happen during any seasonal change. In this section, we explain how each season contributes to an increase in migraines.
As much as we love the sight of blooming trees, they also come with an increase in pollen, which can trigger serious allergies in some people.
Spring allergies can also lead to allergic rhinitis, which is inflammation inside the nose. It’s accompanied by symptoms like runny nose, nasal congestion, and watery eyes.
The inflammation caused by allergic rhinitis can affect other parts of the body, which can trigger a migraine. For this reason, almost half of all patients with allergic rhinitis report migraines.
Allergic rhinitis can also activate the trigeminal nerve, which is responsible for sending pain sensations to the brain. This can be another explanation of the increase in migraines during spring.
Lastly, spring allergies can cause migraines in a less direct way. For instance, allergies can make it hard to get high-quality sleep. Even one night of poor sleep can trigger a migraine in some people.
If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, then summer usually brings increased heat and humidity. For some people, these weather changes on their own are enough to trigger a migraine.
However, for others, heat and humidity can trigger a migraine indirectly. For instance, the more humid it is outside, the higher the likelihood of dehydration. If a migraine sufferer doesn’t increase their hydration in time, they may experience a migraine.
Aside from temperature changes, summer also comes with an increase in daylight hours. This can lead to sleep changes in some migraine sufferers and trigger a migraine attack.
During the fall, temperatures may begin to drop, which can reduce the risk of heat and humidity triggering migraines in some people. However, a drop in temperatures can cause changes in air pressure.
When air pressure outside drops, it creates a difference between air pressure outside and the air pressure in your sinuses. This can lead to changes in blood pressure and increased sinus pain, which can trigger a migraine in some people.
While cold temperatures are fairly mild during the fall, the winter brings a significant increase in cold. This can lead to further changes in air pressure, which can continue to trigger migraines in some people.
Winter also brings less sunshine, which means that we’re getting less vitamin D from the sun. For those who don’t supplement with vitamin D, this can increase the frequency and severity of their migraines.
How Can You Prevent Seasonal Migraines?
Unless we move close to the equator, there’s nothing much that we can do to prevent seasonal changes. However, we can change how we respond to them.
In the first place, it’s important to be aware of how exactly seasonal changes contribute to your migraines. Keep a headache diary throughout the year. Once you identify some seasonal triggers, try to eliminate them as much as possible.
For instance, if you notice that your triggers include tree pollen, then you can limit how much time you spend outdoors during the spring, invest in a HEPA filter, and wear pollen-blocking sunglasses.
On the other hand, if you notice that your migraines are triggered by lack of sunshine, then you can ramp up your vitamin D supplementation and use a light box to simulate daylight.
A change in any season can change your lifestyle, such as your sleep habits or stress levels, which are notorious migraine triggers. To keep migraines at bay, it might help to create a routine and to stick to it — in every season.
Finding Relief With Aculief
Sometimes, seasonal changes may get the best of us, which can trigger migraines.
For medication-free migraine relief, Aculief created our award-winning Wearable Acupressure™ Clip. By stimulating key acupressure points on your hand, your body will release natural endorphins to get you pain relief — quickly, effectively, and without side effects.
Shop more natural migraine and chronic pain relief at aculief.com.