It’s that time of year again! But before you dig out the flip-flops and head outside with your sunblock, here are a few things to consider that may help you avoid migraines this summer.
Hydrate, Hydrate, And Hydrate Some More!
If you only do one thing to avoid summer migraines, do this. Not only is dehydration one of the most common triggers for migraine headaches, but it also contributes to your misery by causing nausea, fatigue, and increased blood pressure (none of which helps if you are migraine-prone). According to HealthCentral, “it takes an average of 64 to 80 ounces to replace the water our bodies lose in 24 hours.” This includes not only the water loss you sustain when you are active outdoors, but also during flights, spending time at higher altitudes, and simply sitting in the sun. And it’s important to pay attention to which fluids you are consuming; some sugary, caffeinated, or alcoholic drinks may actually worsen your chances for getting a migraine.
Keep Sunglasses At Hand
Sun is a well-known migraine trigger. A 2013 study in European Neurology described people whose migraines were only triggered by exposure to sunlight, the onset of which “took 5–10 minutes in summer and 60 minutes in winter.” Prescription, polarized, or FL-41-tinted lenses are best at reducing both the glare and the amount of light hitting your optic nerve. However, even the cheapest sunglasses offer more protection than nothing at all. Try stashing several pairs of sunglasses within easy reach in your car, beach bags, and purse.
Protect Your Head
In addition to sunglasses, it is a great idea to make sure you have a hat, cap, or visor on hand when you are going to be spending time outside, even if it is overcast. This will help block any light that is coming from above and to the side of the sunglasses and mitigate eyestrain.
Rethink Exposure To Fragrances
According to Healthline, “affected patients said cigarette smoke, food smells, and scents (including perfume) were most frequently offensive” to migraine sufferers. Easily overlooked are the fragrances from your sunblock, bug spray, or tanning oil, which can also trigger your headaches. If possible, find unscented versions. And try to reduce the amount of time you spend around smokers and offensive food smells.
Watch What You Eat
When you are traveling, sightseeing, or even just chilling by the beach, it is easy to lose track of time and skip meals and snacks. Worse, it is easy to take the path of least resistance and eat whatever unhealthy choice is most tempting. The good news is that some popular summer foods may actually reduce your migraines—potatoes, salsa, and watermelon are safe, yummy treats for most people. Even though you want to treat yourself, try not to indulge in your migraine trigger foods. It may not be as fun, but it’s better than losing two or three days to a killer migraine when you are on vacation.
Pack Your Meds In Several Places
With more daylight hours, you will probably be outside longer than usual, which also means you’ll likely be away from home (and your medicine) longer than usual. Pack two or three emergency plastic bags with your medicines and stash them where you might need them, such as your beach bag, your carry-on suitcase, and your car (if it’s not too hot from being parked in the sun every day). Once you’ve done that, then you won’t have to worry about meds for the rest of the summer!
Don’t Overdo It
When you travel, change time zones, and enjoy summer parties and activities, it is tempting to overdo it. Staying up too late, letting yourself get stressed while traveling, and spending long days in the glare of the sun will mess with your usual routine and may kick off a migraine. Stress and lack of sleep—even the fun kind—can make you more prone to migraines.
Watch The Weather
If you are someone whose migraines are triggered by weather changes, it is a good idea to pay attention to any storm systems that are coming your way, since the barometric pressure and allergies kicked up by rain can cause you to get a migraine. You may want to reschedule events that will occur when the weather is problematic.
Make Time For Meditation
When summer calls, you may feel the urge to run out and do as much as possible. Before you do, find a calm place and practice deep breathing for 15 minutes. Breathe in through your nose to expand your abdomen, and then exhale slowly. Not only will this help to reduce your stress, but it may improve your focus, lower your blood pressure, and help you better savor the moments in the day ahead.
Unfortunately, as you know, there is no way to avoid all migraines. But with these simple precautions, you can make the most of your summer and let your migraines take a vacation, too.