Summer connotes vacations, dip in swimming pools, beachside escapades and family get-togethers. For those with migraine, summer is synonymous with increased migraine headaches1. For some patients even 5-10 minutes of sun exposure during summer can put them out of action for a whole day1. This is why many migraineurs shun the summer sun, which significantly reduces their social fun.

Why does summer increase Migraine incidences?

Research has suggested that bright light during summers is a common cause for migraine headaches, although why light provokes a headache is still unclear1.

Besides bright light, temperature may also play a role in triggering migraine headache. The warm weather can stimulate the sensory receptors found under the skin thereby triggering a migraine headache1.

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Tips to avoid migraine during summer:

  1. Limit Sun exposure: Avoiding that time of the day when sun is at its harshest can help you avoid a migraine. If going out is unavoidable during this time, ensure your head is well covered.
  2. Carry umbrella and sunglasses: This one is a no-brainer since most migraineurs follow this tip already. An umbrella, hat/cap and sun glasses will help you to avoid direct contact with the bright sunlight.
  3. Stay well hydrated: Your body loses water and some essential minerals though sweat leading to dehydration. Drink at least 8 glasses of water daily and carry a bottle of water if you are stepping out in the hot sun.
  4. Keep your medicines handy: Consult your doctor regularly and stock up on all your medicines beforehand. Make a point to keep some of your tablets in your purse or pocket at all times.
  5. Avoid exertion in the heat: If you are compelled to work in the sun, then avoid walking too much. Try to use transportation as much as possible. If you are on a vacation, do not get tempted to play outdoor games in the hot sun. You can save them for the evening.
  6. Stick to your routine: Weekends during summers can make you feel lazy but do remember that oversleeping or under-sleeping or eating at erratic timings can create havoc in your routine and trigger a migraine headache.
  7. Maintain an exercise routine: preferably indoors. You may feel like soaking up some sun by exercising in the open, but it is advisable to exercise indoors to avoid bright sunlight.
  8. Confide in your loved ones: Let your family and friends know about your condition, so that they do not plan a getaway that is inconvenient for you.
  9. Watch what you eat: Summer is the time when our taste buds are most active, but do not tease them too much. Maintain a food journal or dairy to keep a track on what you eat and what food needs to be avoided.
  10. Relax: Do not worry too much about the sun. Pamper yourself to some nice soothing massages and spa treatments.

Summer time can be difficult if you are a migraineur and the constant fear of sunlight will keep you away from social gatherings, thereby negatively affecting your social life. However, if you take adequate precautions, you can enjoy the summer holidays just as any other person.

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  1. Eur Neurol 2013;70:263-266