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Can Hot Weather Cause a Headache?

Yes. Hot Weather can cause real headaches and very real migraines.  The team at Healthstatus provides more detail. “It is a scientifically established fact that warm weather is a vital trigger for migraines. Out of all the weather conditions, the temperature is the major trigger and every 9 degree Fahrenheit increase in the temperature, raises the headache risk by 7.5%.”

This summer in Chicago we’ve seen some of the wildest temperature swings ever. Just a few weeks ago it was in the upper 60s and chilly, and now we’re looking at record-breaking temperatures over 95º and heat indexes above 110º. That’s a 26% increased risk of having a headache or migraine.

What causes heat headaches?

Heat headaches are caused by several heat-related factors – the main factors being dehydration and too much exposure to the sun. Both direct sunlight and indirect contact through sun glare can trigger headaches and migraines.

Also impacting headaches in hot weather is how your body responds to humidity, what you eat and how well you sleep.

How are heat headaches and migraines different that regular headaches?

Heat headaches often initially present as a dull throbbing in the head in combination with light sensitivity and fatigue.

Often heat headaches are the precursor to heat exhaustion which will cause dizziness, nausea, feeling faint, and extreme thirst.

What to do if a heat headache or migraine occurs?

Cool off!

Find a cool place to be Place a cold compress on key points: wrist, back of the neck, back of knees, inside arm at elbow Drink iced herbal tea

Seek medical attention quickly in cases of extreme heat exhaustion, heatstroke, which is when in addition to a heat headache there is a sudden high fever, nausea and vomiting, slurred speech, disorientation, or pale and clammy skin.

Is it possible to avoid heat headaches?

Maybe – it’s difficult to say. Certainly it is possible to mitigate heat headaches and migraines by following a few simple rules

Carry Water
Staying hydrated in hot, even warm, the weather helps to limit headaches and migraines.

Be Careful in the Sun
Especially if it’s also humid. Wear sunscreen, a hat, loose-fitting, light clothing, and sunglasses.

Eat for Summer
Traditional Chinese Medicine promotes a Yin and Yang pattern of eating – in hot weather that means eating more cold foods and drinks.

 Enjoy foods that are high in water content, and grow above the ground, like cucumbers, watercress, watermelon, bok choy, white mushrooms, snow peas, sprouts, spinach and cooler spices such as cilantro, mint, and dill.

Avoid dairy, and eating foods that are heavy, fried, or greasy.

Adopt a Summer Schedule
In the summer it helps to get up a little earlier, go to be a little later, and have a short rest during the day.

How Can Acupuncture Help?

As with any headache or migraine – acupuncture can quickly help alleviate the headache discomfort while the body restores itself.

References

Healthstatus. (2016, June) Seven Tips to Fight Warm Weather Migraine. Retrieved from:  https://www.healthstatus.com/health_blog/wellness/seven-tips-to-fight-warm-weather-migraine/

Watson, Katherine. (2019, January 15) What You Need to Know about Heat-Induced Headaches and Migraines. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/health/heat-headache#seeking-medical-help

Joswick, Diane L.Ac MSOM () Summertime! Chinese Medicine and the Summer Season.  Retrieved from: https://www.acufinder.com/Acupuncture+Information/Detail/Summertime%21+Chinese+Medicine+and+the+Summer+Season

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