Author: Jennifer Howder, Clinical Pharmacist
Each person has unique migraine triggers. It can be hard to figure out what’s causing your migraine attacks, especially since triggers can change with the seasons. Learn more about potential fall migraine triggers, and try these helpful tips to get your migraines under control.
Fall Weather and Migraines
Barometric pressure, also called atmospheric pressure, is a measurement of how heavy the atmosphere is. Changes in barometric pressure often bring fluctuations in the weather and affect the way you feel. If you get migraines, barometric pressure changes may trigger an attack. During the fall, hot summer days are transitioning into cooler autumn temperatures. This shift brings a lot of change to barometric pressure and weather patterns. Fluctuating temperatures can trigger migraines for some people.
Daylight Savings and Migraines
Shorter days and longer nights may affect your sleep patterns this fall, which can trigger a migraine. This is especially noticeable when the clock changes at the end of daylight savings time. Even small changes to your sleep schedule can lead to a migraine attack. However, the good news is that fewer hours of sunlight can mean fewer migraines. Light is a migraine trigger for many people. If you’re sensitive to bright light, the end of daylight savings in the fall can help bring relief.
Bonfires and Migraines
Bonfires are a classic staple of the fall season. Before you throw on an oversized sweatshirt and spend an evening under the harvest moon, think about your migraine triggers. Strong fireplace and bonfire odors combined with irritating smoke can trigger a migraine in some people. It may help to sit away from the smoke or try to avoid it altogether.
Fall Allergies and Migraines
Environmental allergies affect people with migraines all year long, but each season brings its own set of potential triggers. Fall allergies can cause a migraine attack for some people. Wind spreads ragweed pollen hundreds of miles starting in late August and lasting through October. Mold from piles of damp leaves is another common irritant for people, especially in the fall. Sometimes people think they have a sinus headache but it may actually be a migraine. If you have allergies, it’s important to understand the difference between migraines and sinus headaches. Talk to your doctor about how controlling your allergies may help reduce the frequency of migraines.
If fall is a big headache season for you, talk to your Amber Pharmacy pharmacist to help you manage your migraine triggers. In the meantime, try these easy tips for managing migraines.
Avoid the Common Cold
The common cold often brings runny noses and sinus pressure. For people with migraines, a common cold can trigger an attack. Together, a cold and a migraine can be quite uncomfortable. Take precautions to avoid catching cold this fall. Wash your hands often, dress warmly for the weather and try to keep your distance from other people with a cold. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers useful information about how to prevent the common cold this fall.
It’s important to stay hydrated this fall and in every season because dehydration can trigger migraines for some people. During the final dog days of summer, you’ll want to drink plenty of water to stay cool in higher temperatures. As autumn and winter begin and the temperature drops, you still want to stay hydrated. Cooler air tends to be dry, and many people forget to drink water when it’s cold outside. Whether it’s a hot summer day, a cold winter morning or anywhere in between, dehydration can occur in all kinds of weather if you’re not drinking water throughout the day.
Stick to Your Schedule
Fall brings more than changes in the weather and your wardrobe. With the end of daylight savings and the beginning of a new school year for many people, fall tends to lead to changes in your schedule. In the middle of the fall transition this year, remember to keep your routine as consistent as possible. Migraines are often easier to manage when you stick to a regular schedule of eating and sleeping. Hunger and lack of sleep are common migraine triggers.
Keep a Journal
Navigating your migraine triggers can be frustrating, especially if you consider the migraine trigger threshold. Each person has a unique threshold or tolerance for his or her triggers. Sometimes one trigger won’t cause a migraine but multiple triggers can combine to cause an attack. Many people find it helpful to keep a journal of when they get migraines and what possibly triggered the episode. Make a resolution to monitor your migraines this fall with a migraine journal.
For more information about seasonal migraine triggers, visit the American Migraine Foundation.