It’s almost summer, and while the hazy, lazy, sunny days bring a sense of well-being and enjoyment to so many people, for migraine sufferers it can be quite the opposite. If you’re one of the 14 million Americans who regularly contend with chronic headaches, you might be a little less happy about the arrival of the heat.
Whether your migraines are triggered by allergies, barometric pressure fluctuations or changes in your routine, you can improve your outlook by following these tips to avoid them.
Tip 1: Limit Exposure to Sun
Being out in the heat for long periods can give the most migraine-free person a headache, and for you it can be seriously uncomfortable. Keep the amount of time you’re out in direct sunlight to a minimum. If you’re determined to enjoy the sunshine, wear a broad-brimmed hat to keep your head and upper body cool.
Tip 2: Keep Cool
Arm yourself with a large umbrella for long days at the beach or ball game, and stay cool by spritzing yourself with water. Wind a wet bandanna around your neck for ongoing coolness. Better yet, find a seat in the shade or where you’ll benefit from a gentle breeze.
Tip 3: Avoid the Light
Sunlight can trigger a migraine as quickly as other bright lights can, so protect your eyes with good quality sunglasses at all times. If you wear prescription lenses, get a spare pair with polarized lenses for hot days.
Tip 4: Stick to a Routine
It’s common in summer for your usual routine to become a bit less structured. Even though this is ultimately good for you and promotes relaxation and leisure, it can play havoc with your migraines. Chopping and changing your regular meal times and sleep patterns is a sure-fire way to trigger a headache, so stick to your routine even when you’re on vacation.
Tip 5: Manage Your Meds
When you’re traveling, it might be harder to keep your medications as cool as they should be, and exposure to warmer temperatures can reduce their effectiveness. Keep them in a cool, dark place at all times, and avoid leaving them in a hot car or bathroom for a period of any length.
Tip 6: Do Your Exercises
One of the first things to fall by the wayside when you go on vacation is your exercise routine. It’s right up there with eating healthily—both in terms of importance for avoiding migraines and in terms of being easy to forget when you’re relaxing. Look for ways to incorporate exercise into your daily program, even during the most action-packed period.
Tip 7: Stay Sane
Reduce your risk for stress-related migraines by planning ahead, making notes and taking care of all the things that might arise. These include:
- Getting your car serviced in advance of a long road trip
- Making your travel reservations well ahead of time to avoid the rush
- Ensuring that you have all your medications and the information about your family’s state of health handy
These measures will help you to stay sane during the craziest time and avoid triggering a migraine when it’s least convenient.
Tip 8: Increase Hydration
Dehydration is your enemy. Take it from us. The hotter it is, the faster you’re likely to have the fluids in your body depleted. Keep cool water handy at all times and make sure you drink enough of it to stay hydrated. Remember, by the time you are thirsty it could already be too late, and a migraine could be on the way. Too much water can also be detrimental, however, so try to strike a balance.
Tip 9: Skip the Alcohol
Alcohol, particularly in the heat, is notorious for causing headaches even in non-migraine sufferers. If you know it’s a trigger for you, be doubly careful about what—and when—you consume any. Best bet is to skip it completely in favor of non-alcoholic beverages. You’ll have more fun if you don’t get a headache.
Tip 10: Take “Me” Time
Be sure to set aside time for yourself every day, to ensure that you keep functioning at your best. Otherwise, you won’t be able to give your best to your family during the vacation, and that will just increase your stress.
If you’re likely to forget these tips in the “heat” of the moment, take the time to print out this list and keep it handy. Plan ahead with caution in mind, and you’ll find you can enjoy your summer and hopefully keep the migraines to a minimum.