Spring is finally here – who’s looking forward to longer and warmer days? Many of us with migraine find that springtime can trigger attacks or worsen migraine symptoms. The changes in weather, fresh flower blooms and pollen, and spring cleaning can all contribute to migraine. Below are the spring triggers to look out for, and how to better manage them.
Why Do I Get Migraine Attacks in the Spring?
Springtime migraine attacks are common due to several triggers.
- High pollen counts: In the spring, allergies, or allergic rhinitis (hay fever) may occur because of higher pollen. An allergic reaction to pollen or other allergens can cause a sinus headache or migraine.
- Changes in weather: In the spring the weather can change drastically from one day to the next. One day it may be 40 degrees, and the next day 80 degrees. These temperature swings along with spring showers can cause barometric (atmospheric) changes and trigger or worsen migraine attacks.
- Storms: Stormy weather like thunderstorms and tornados can also impact migraine pain.
- High heat and humidity: High humidity can trigger migraines and other chronic conditions like asthma or joint pain.
- The sun: Winter’s short, dark days are turning into sunnier, longer, spring days. Direct sunlight or glare from the sun can cause or make migraine pain worse.
- Spring cleaning: We all love to give our homes a good spring cleaning, however, harsh cleaning products can trigger migraine symptoms. This includes any scented products used for cleaning or freshening your living or workspace.
- Travel: Spring break is the start of the summer travel season, which can create a number of triggers. When traveling you may experience more stress, have your sleep or eating routine disrupted, or have challenges with changes in altitude.
What Are Seasonal Migraine Symptoms?
Migraine symptoms can change throughout the year. Most symptoms stay the same, such as head pain, nausea, and sensitivity to light, sounds, and smells. During the spring, you may also have allergy-like symptoms including a stuffy nose, watery or itchy eyes, and scratchy throat. You may also experience a sinus headache, which in most cases are actually migraine attacks. Learn more about migraine symptoms and triggers here.
How To Prevent Seasonal Migraine Attacks
- Follow your migraine treatment plan to prevent and manage attacks. Take your migraine medications as directed by your doctor.
- Take your seasonal allergy medications as directed by your doctor.
- Track pollen counts on apps like www.airquality.gov. Plan outdoor activities in the early morning or late evening when the pollen counts are lower.
- Wear a mask outdoors on days when the pollen counts are high. When you’re working in the yard or garden wear a mask and gloves. Take your shoes off before coming inside, change your clothes and shower before sitting on the furniture or going to bed to avoid bringing pollen inside.
- Run the air conditioner in your home and car if you can when it’s hot or humid. In the car, use the “recycled air” function to avoid pollen and humidity coming inside the care.
- Wear sunglasses or shades made specifically for migraine when you’re outside to help reduce the glare and intensity of the sun. A hat or visor can also help keep the sun out of your eyes.
- Clean with unscented cleaning products and avoid air fresheners.
- Plan for your travel. Bring plenty of medications and therapies with you and try to stick to your normal sleep and meal plan as much as possible. Remember to stay hydrated.
It is not uncommon for spring migraine triggers to make your attacks or symptoms worse. If you notice your symptoms or attacks change with the seasons, talk with your doctor. You may need an updated treatment plan to help you through the spring and into summer. Click here to find a certified headache specialist near you.