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Spring, summer, winter, fall: do you have a Migraine season?
Do spring storms bring you to your knees in pain? Are hot, humid days your arch-nemesis? Do you religiously check the forecast, trying to predict your likelihood of calling out sick? For many people with Migraine, the weather impacts much more than what we’re going to wear or what route we take to work. What is happening in the sky can literally mean the difference between a productive day and a day spent curled up in the dark.
While Migraine triggers are personal and vary from person to person, certain weather patterns are among the most common triggers. And different people are affected by different weather patterns. The winter Migraine season, with cold temps and high winds, is the worst part of the year for those triggered by barometric pressure change.
On the other hand, the summer Migraine season is prime pain time for those sensitive to heat, humidity, dehydration, sunshine, or thunderstorms.
LISTEN: meteorologist Alexandra Steele discusses weather-related migraines on the Migraine Again Podcast
The people around you who don’t have Migraine probably don’t fully understand why a storm or a heat wave sends you to bed in pain. Misery loves company, as they say, and you’re in good company. We polled our Migraine Again facebook community and received dozens of funny, heartfelt, and true comments about weather-triggered migraines from the warriors who handle them.
Winter: the Dark Migraine Season
The shorter days and softer light in winter bring some relief for people with Migraine, but the snow storms, high winds, and lack of vitamin D can trigger attacks in others. Winter is especially hard on those who deal with Migraine and depression at the same time or those with seasonal affective disorder.
Big snowstorms are pretty much a guaranteed migraine. Also, cloudy, rainy, overcast days where the air just feels heavy tend to not be so great either. – Joanna S.
Cold winter weather the changing pressure from highs to lows or lows to highs. My head and body does like winter. – Helen L
Winter is worse than allergy season for me. I get an attack every time barometric pressure changes. -Katie K.
As a chronic migraineur in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, I am very affected by chinook winds in the winter. I get a migraine attack prior to the chinook winds actually blowing. I don’t usually have a migraine start during the chinook itself. –Nancy Y.
People think I’m crazy when I tell them I can sense a change in the barometric pressure due to my headaches.
Sometimes my migraines will last for days depending on the barometric pressure, etc. – Tricia R.
Spring: April Showers Bring Migraine Powers
Ah spring! Warmer weather, gentle rains, flowers abound. For many people, however, oscillating temperatures, changing barometric pressure, and an increase in allergens make spring the most miserable Migraine season.
The changing barometer tends to send my body and head to pieces. Major temp chages of 20 degrees or more up to down , or down to up. – Heather W.
Major quick weather changes trigger my attacks. Also high humidity. – Jeannine S.
Too hot is much worse than too cold. The worst for me is spring and autumn with the passing high and low pressure systems. -Michael W.
When the weather changes as it so often does in Houston, Texas and the Barometer changes and drops – it is a trigger indeed along with the heat and humidity. I rely on my Barometer app on my phone to tell me when it does drop and I can lookout for a pending attack. – Anne M.
I’m a human barometer. The cold weather doesn’t really affect me…..it’s the hot weather that makes it worse. – Add-y
A migraine will stay as long as the leaded skies and low pressure last. No Meds will touch it. Have to wait it out which can be a week or more. Such relief when a dry blue sky day comes and the pressure changes. -Kym
Summer: Migraine in the Heat
When the temperature and humidity start to rise, so do Migraine attacks. Summer can bring big storms, too, like tornadoes, thunderstorms, or hurricanes – all of which can trigger migraines in some people.
Dread the summer months , always makes my migraines worse, dry frosty autumn days are far more bearable. – David V.
Tornado season is killer time for me and migraines. And yes, i am a human barometer. – Toni G.
I love cutting grass, I love being out on the boat fishing. But, with the threat of migraines, I have to dress like an old woman with my big floppy hat and dark sunglasses. I don’t dare let the sun’s glare ruin my day. It is a love, hate relationship with the sun. – Sandra W
Bright, sunny, warm days…summer is my literal hell. – Amber F.
Sunny, hot weather and hot sun triggers my migraines. – Yong H.
Waiting it out is rough. My husband has learned to wait it out with me, bless his heart. It’s so isolating though because you can’t plan anything. This hurricane season is the worst since Katrina. – Kathy
Sunny, hot weather is my biggest trigger, and guess what? I live in Greece. – Clio P.
Hydrate..a lot. I do not do anything outside when the temperatures rise above a certain degree or the heat index is too high. I would love to do outdoor activities or go places, but just can’t. -Regina C.
Autumn: Migraine Season of Change
Fall bring brings cooler temps, less humidity, windier days — and more Migraine attacks for some. It’s true: Seasonal changes really can provoke Migraine attacks, and the shift from summer to fall is one of the most dramatic. Lee Peterlin, DO, associate professor of neurology and director of headache research at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine says, “When you have changes in weather, it’s not just temperature. It’s changes in atmospheric pressure, in wind, in clouds, in dust, and precipitation.”
Barometric pressure change is my primary trigger. September has been very difficult. I’ve lost many many sunny beautiful days that were preceded by rain the day before. I also have migraines when the weather changes sunny to rainy. None of the MANY prevention treatments I’ve tried have been successful. – Catherine
Overcast and low pressure crucify me. – Sammy D.
Fronts, storms, high winds, clouds. Basically anything but a calm sunny day triggers my migraines. Living in the Midwest is the worst…I’m considering moving to southern Florida or California where my migraines are much better. – Cathy N.
I don’t need to watch the weather. My friends watch me. – Mary C.
North Wester winds in Christchurch, New Zealand. Every time. No avoiding a migraine for several days. – Hayley S.
Spring and Fall are most people’s favorite time of year but I struggle to function. – Jennifer K.
“Wake me up when September ends.” – Abby B.
Thriving Through the Seasons
You cannot, of course, change the weather. But identifying which seasons and weather patterns are more likely to trigger attacks can help you prepare. Being prepared means avoiding other triggers, since Migraine triggers add up, and paying extra attention to your stress level, hydration, and sleep. It is easier to prevent an attack than it is to treat one, so doubling down on prevention during your worst Migraine season can help you suffer less.
Unfortunately, weather-triggered migraine attacks may come no matter how diligently you prepare. You can take comfort in the fact that you are never alone in your pain or your triggers, no matter how quirky they seem to other people. There are people all over the world who can relate to your journey and your least favorite Migraine season.