Migraines are a year-round issue for many of the 36 million sufferers in the United States, however, summer can be particularly troublesome due to common factors that come with the season. For instance, summer’s sudden storms can cause quick barometric pressure changes that trigger a migraine. Some research suggests that summer is the worst time of year for migraine sufferers, but it will depend on the person’s sensitivity to triggers, like storms, and such as:
The summer temps means much more sweating for some. This loss of water — and the sodium along with it — can be a migraine trigger. However, be careful to avoid overhydrating, as well, since it dilutes electrolytes which can also set off an episode. We also tend to imbibe a bit more on fruity alcoholic cocktails or thirst-quenching beers during summer festivities, which can throw off our body’s normal hydration levels.
That’s right…going on an actual vacation can trigger a migraine. Experts believe it’s from the let down of stress — it’s why there are statistically more migraines on days we are off then when we are busy and more stressed.
Long days of sunlight mean later bedtimes or changes in dinner times. These changes in our daily patterns can set off a migraine.
The neighbor’s fresh cut lawn and other blooming plant/tree pollens can trigger migraines. The heat also plays a factor for some. Bright sunlight is also an issue, so invest in a good pair of sunglasses if bright light is problematic.
To reduce the seasonal migraine triggers, where possible:
- Keep to a consistent schedule of sleep and meals.
- Keep windows closed and AC on to a comfortable temperature.
- Keep busy during vacations.
- Wear good sunglasses.
- Get enough hydration, but don’t overdo it.
Keep a migraine “tool kit” handy at all times that includes your traditional medicines and alternative no-pill options, such as Stopain Migraine, a unique, topical gel that is applied to the back of the neck and behind the ears for fast, effective and safe migraine pain relief. This way you can act fast if you feel a migraine starting, and get back quicker to your summer activities.
Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kick off to summer, and it also may be the first time many of us dust off the cobwebs and crack open the barbecue grill for the first grilling session of the season. While you may already smell the burgers sizzling, headache experts say that some of this season’s favorite foods can be triggers for those who suffer with migraines (and adding warm weather and alcohol to the mix just compounds things).
Here’s a list of some of the top BBQ food triggers to avoid:
Barbecue sauce and other similar condiments, as well as processed meats, often MSG, which can trigger migraine headaches. Read the labels to avoid this ingredient and others that are similar, such as hydrolyzed vegetable protein, autolyzed yeast, sodium caseinate, yeast extract, hydrolyzed oat flour, texturized protein, and calcium casinate. To play it safe and avoid needing to remember all these names, look for products labeled “MSG-Free.”
Cured or smoked meats, like hot dogs and sausages, not only can contain MSG, but also are full of nitrates that can trigger a migraine. Look for fresh, uncured meats for grilling instead, as well as organic or natural hot dogs or sausages.
Certain cheeses, sauerkraut and even pickles and relish all contain various ingredients that those with migraines can be sensitive to. Keep it simple: stick to American cheese and skip the pickles on burgers.
Happy, migraine-free grilling!
Daith piercings, done for thousands of years, have recently become popular among migraine sufferers. The piercing, done on the innermost cartilage fold of the ear (see the hoop piercing in the image; can be done on one or both sides), is touted by advocates as being similar to acupuncture, targeting pressure points to help ease the incidence and pain of migraines. While alternative or additional options for migraine pain relief are encouraged, it’s important to understand going into this painful piercing that there are risks — of not only infection at the piercing site, but also that for some, it could even make their migraines worse. There are currently no studies available, and Snopes (the popular hoax vs. fact website) urges caution, so before going through the process, health experts recommend that you take baby steps first and try actual acupuncture. By trying this out prior to an actual piercing, a migraine sufferer can gauge whether she or he reacts to the technique first before actually getting the piercing.
If you’re looking for non-painful, non-pill alternatives to help manage your migraine pain or to use in conjunction with your traditional medications, you should also consider:
- Dietary tracking/food journaling (check out the free MigraineChecked app to track potential food and beverage triggers)
- Stress management
- Topical pain relief options, such as Stopain Migraine pain relieving gel, which is applied to the back of the neck behind each ear up to four times daily. It’s now available at Walmart, Rite Aid, HEB, Amazon.com, Drugstore.com and StopainMigraine.com.
Daith piercings, as promising as they may sound in social media, will not work for everyone and will not cure migraines, so speak to your physician (not your neighbor) before trying it.
Guest Post by Victoria Brodsky, Head of Nutrition, MigraineChecked
If you’re a migraineur, you know that your migraines may be triggered by a wide variety of factors: stress, changes in weather, fasting patterns, and of course, certain foods or beverages. Many foods, like dark chocolate, aged cheese, beans and dairy have a bad rap, since migraine sufferers have self-reported these foods or beverages as definite migraine triggers (even though there still lacks significant scientific evidence to confirm that this is true).
However, no matter whether it’s scientifically proven that certain foods can trigger the physiological changes that cause migraine, the best way to prevent your migraine is to be mindful of potential food triggers that are specific to you. Here are some tips that can help identify potential food triggers that may help avoid a migraine.
1) Track your food.
Not only will writing down everything you eat and drink allow you to quickly identify certain foods or eating patterns that may have triggered your migraine, but simply tracking your food can help you keep your weight in check. Studies have shown that overweight or obese individuals are often more likely to experience migraines or chronic headaches and that losing weight can help reduce the occurrence of migraines [1, 2].
2) Eat clean.
You may have seen this trend on Pinterest or in magazines, but clean eating is not just a fad – it usually sums up how a healthy, balanced diet should be. Clean eating means your diet is made up of mostly whole, fresh, unprocessed foods like fresh meats, fruits, vegetables and whole grains (foods without a label, or very few ingredients). By simply cutting out packaged and processed foods, you are limiting what your potential food triggers may be instead of trying to dissect a bunch of long ingredient labels.
3) Utilize free tools.
There are many resources out there that can help you identify food ingredients that may trigger a migraine. MigraineChecked does just that. When you scan a food or beverage bar code, it will tell you whether or not it contains a “common” migraine trigger ingredient. What’s most helpful is that it bolds the ingredients that triggered the warning, which can you pinpoint exactly what might be a problem you and your migraines. It’s available for iphone and Android phones.