The Allergy Aspect
There’s a close relationship between allergies and migraines, and since allergens abound during Mother Nature’s spring renewal, many migraineurs see an increase in their symptoms at this time. The presence of pollen, dust or odors in your surroundings can irritate your nasal passages and trigger an allergic reaction accompanied by sneezing and congestion, coughing and headaches. Developing full-blown rhinitis or sinus can kickstart a series of migraine attacks with no relief until the end of spring.
Barometric pressure fluctuates during seasonal changes, and since barometric headaches are a common factor for migraine patients it’s not surprising these changes can cause attacks. The sinuses are pockets of air whose internal pressure matches that of the atmosphere. When the external pressure changes suddenly, it creates an imbalance between what’s happening inside and outside your head, which can cause a migraine to attack. In addition, the shifts from cooler to warmer weather and back that occur during spring can trigger migraines in many patients.
Identifying Your Triggers
The most important factor in combating spring migraines is identification of your personal triggers. Once you know what these are, you’ll be in a better position to prevent attacks. Keeping a migraine diary is critical during the shift from winter to spring, and after the year is over don’t ditch it—the diary will provide valuable intelligence for the following year. Record details such as the barometric pressure in the morning and any changes during the day, then make a note of whether you develop a migraine or not. Track any other spring conditions such as so-called “Hay Fever,” and record if a headache attacks within 24 hours of sinus symptoms.
Reduce Your Allergen Exposure
We can’t do anything about the existence of allergens, but it is possible to reduce your exposure to those you know to be detrimental. At work and at home, you can:
- Avoid external air with all the particles that come with it, by keeping your windows and doors closed and changing the filters in your air conditioning units monthly.
- Keep your home and office areas clean by dusting and vacuuming regularly, and wash your clothes frequently to get rid of any particles that cling to the fabric.
- Wear a disposable face mask and latex gloves when you’re out and about, to avoid direct contact with allergens. It really doesn’t matter what people think if it helps you to reduce your headache frequency.
Ask your doctor whether antihistamines and other allergy medications will have any value for you, and if they are safe to use in addition to your regular migraine treatments.
Other Preventive Measures
If you know what triggers your spring migraines, you can take steps to avoid it. Patients with light sensitivity who find spring sunshine too bright can protect themselves by wearing sunglasses, planning a daily routine that enables them to be indoors during the brightest and warmest times of the day, and wearing a wide-brimmed hat if going outside is unavoidable.
Paying attention to the weather forecast is helpful, even though it isn’t foolproof and only provides an indication of what to expect each day. Many local weather stations and smartphone apps available offer information such as air quality and barometric pressure, and some, like Accuweather, even provide migraine-specific information to help patients make better decisions.
It’s easy to become dehydrated when the weather warms up unexpectedly. Drink plenty of fluids and eat fruits high in water content, limit your intake of sugar and avoid outdoor activities when the temperature rises.
Limit the effect of spring’s arrival on your migraines by following these preventive measures, taking magnesium supplements to maintain the right levels, sticking to a sleep schedule that ensures you get enough regular rest and spending time each day in meditation. This has been proven to reduce the frequency and intensity of headaches and to improve your tolerance of pain.
Schedule an appointment with your migraine doctor to discuss options for combating spring migraines and plan your activities well in advance.