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HeadWay Issue #204 Is Hot Weather Giving You A Headache?
August 21, 2021

In this issue:

Is Hot Weather Giving You A Headache?

Recently At Headache and Migraine News

Say what?! Heat Exhaustion

Is Hot Weather Giving You A Headache?

The relationship between weather and headache is not so simple, but there's no doubt that time out in the heat and sun can put you at risk.

Actually, you need time out in the sun for your health. But you need to do it right.

Studies have suggested that it is not just one environmental factor that triggers headache or migraine, but many. For example, a study many years ago from Environment Canada suggested a higher risk during a "phase 4" weather pattern - low pressure, the passage of a warm front, high temperature and humidity, and often overcast skies. Other research has looked at lightning, and related to lightning storms are other factors such as dust and pollution. Sun exposure in general can cause problems in certain cases.

A 2009 study found that increasing temperature, and to some extent lower barometric pressure, increased migraine risk. In fact, for every 5° of temperature increase, more patients arrived at the hospital with migraine symptoms.

Lower Your Risk

Probably the most important factor to help you avoid heat headaches is hydration. Here are some quick tips
  • Start your day with a couple of glasses of water, and a dash of salt.
  • Drink water regularly throughout the day, even if you don't feel thirsty.
  • Avoid alcohol, energy drinks and other caffeinated drinks.
  • Avoid sugary drinks, such as juices.
  • Don't overdo it. Drinking more than 1.4 litres per hour is not necessary, and could be dangerous.
  • Make sure you're getting enough salt, especially if you're drinking a lot and sweating a lot. A salty snack, like a handful of salty nuts, is usually sufficient. If you're not eating for some reason, a dash or two in every second glass of water may help.
  • Try an app to remind you to drink regularly, such as Waterlogged.
  • Do the "urine test". Your urine should be the colour of pale hay or a glass of lemonade if you're drinking enough - too clear, and you're drinking too much. Too dark - go get a glass of water.
Be sure also to watch others for heat exhaustion, or heat stroke. If someone looks pale, is feeling sick and has a headache, get them some water and cool them off right away. If dizziness or irrational behaviour is added to the list, or even fainting, it is an emergency. You'll find some helpful tips here.

Other tips for migraine patients in hot weather:
  • Have your emergency kit with you, with migraine medication, water, and whatever else you may find helpful.
  • Invest in some quality sunglasses.
  • Wear a hat in sunlight.
  • Avoid sunburn.
  • Enjoy the sun regularly, rather than suddenly exposing yourself for hours after a week indoors.
  • Heat can tire you out - don't be afraid to get more rest.
Get out and enjoy those sunny days. Regular time outside is great for your health. But pay attention to your body and make sure you're taking care of yourself and others.

More useful general tips from the Red Cross here: Heat Wave Safety

Recently At Headache and Migraine News

Say what?! Heat Exhaustion

What exactly is heat exhaustion? Basically, it's a condition that occurs when your body is unable to cool itself properly - often due simply to high temperatures, dehydration, and exertion. If not treated, heat exhaustion can lead to the life-threatening heat stroke.

Some medications may also contribute to heat exhaustion, such as beta blockers, which many with migraine take.

The Mayo Clinic has some recommendations for first aid if you suspect heat exhaustion - read more here.

Thanks for reading!  Remember, if you have feedback or ideas for future issues, visit the HeadWay MailRoom.  Your password is nomoache.
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