I feel the heat wave in my bones

Today and yesterday were blissfully cool by Georgia summer standards.  Both mornings I went for an hour-long walk, yesterday in a nearby park by myself as I listened to podcasts, today with my dad as we walked this amazing nature trail near downtown Athens.  By the very end of each walk, I was a little sweaty, but mostly from the humidity and not the heat. It is so nice to be able to be outdoors in the summer here—usually the only way I can be outside for long during the day is if there’s a pool nearby!

Last week was a totally different story.  I guess you couldn’t really call the weather a “heat wave” since it’s summer and hot, hot, hot temperatures are to be expected every day, not just in a wave.  Still, though, the temperature hovered around 100 degrees day after day, and the heat index was around 102-105 throughout the week.  Thankfully, I mostly worked from my air-conditioned home (and, unlike many of my friends, I have an AC that hasn’t conked out so far!). I drank plenty of fluids and, to my chagrin, curbed my exercise a bit because even at 7:30 in the morning it was already too hot and humid for me to take a walk—overexertion and prolonged heat exposure are triggers for me, and putting the two together can be a recipe for disaster.

Despite my doing a good job of staying cool, drinking plenty of fluids, and not overexerting myself, I was still exhausted. Three days into the heat wave, I realized that I was experiencing the same sensation I have had the last many years during such extreme spikes in temperature, the sensation that my body knows what the weather is like outside even if I am safely ensconced in my artificially cooled home.

My mom and I talked about it, and she agreed with me.  (She is even more heat sensitive than I am and stayed in her house, a few blocks away from mine, for a few days in a row because she knew even running a quick errand could be detrimental to her health.)  I talked to one of my other friends about it as well, and he agreed: our bodies, even when indoors, were behaving lethargically.  The temperature in the house was the same as it usually is in summer, but I felt warm all the time.  (This is saying a lot since I run cold and often have a cardigan and fuzzy slippers on when Jim is in shorts and bare feet.)  I drank plenty of water but continued to feel thirsty. I was run down and tired and full of the blahs.

I was reminded of the fact that I am of course an animal, an animal whose species didn’t create systems to cool entire living spaces until the relatively recent past.  I am connected to nature even when I seem to be separated from it.  Like an arthritic person (hint: me) can feel it in her joints when it’s going to rain, like a migraineur (hint: me) can feel it in her head when a storm is approaching, I had the experience of feeling beat down, dehydrated, hot, and exhausted during the heat wave that was outside my door.

Do any of you experience this connection to weather?  When there’s extreme weather and/or dramatic drops or increases in temperature outdoors, can you sense that indoors? Anecdotal stories and even formal studies have suggested that migraineurs may be more attuned to sensory stimuli than are those who don’t have migraines, so I’m curious to hear from you about this!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (44)
  • Jules2dl
    3 years ago

    Weather has been my number 1 trigger for years. I definitely respond negatively to extreme temperatures, both hot and cold. The sun is a trigger for me even during our cold Chicago winters. Rain and snow bring on full-blown migraines. I don’t even accompany my husband any more when he drag races because I know I’ll end up being miserable.
    I do get very lethargic even when it’s only in the 80’s here, and also when it’s below zero. The heat affects me more profoundly than the cold though. I tend to feel dizzy and generally ill when it’s hot, while I mostly get sleepy and lethargic when it’s very cold.
    Sometimes I feel as if I just can’t win, rain or shine!

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    Jules2dl,

    The healthiest I’ve ever been, migraine-wise, was when I spent 6 weeks near the equator in Costa Rica, where the sun rose and set at the same times every day. Granted, I was on a regular schedule and ate healthy foods regularly, but I do often think the consistency of the weather helped–and I was there right before the rainy season set in.

    I hope you’re feeling good today. Thanks for the comment!

    -Janet G.

  • Riley
    3 years ago

    I’ve just registered on this site and this is my first comment.

    Thanks so much for writing this post, it really resonated with me. I’ve been a migraine sufferer all my life but intensity of my migraines have increased in my 30s.

    I too am extremely sensitive to changes in temperature. To date, the worst migraine I recall having was triggered by jumping into a hot bath after being out in the snow. Never doing that again! And the first time I passed out from a migraine was on a really hot day while on vacation in Jamaica as a child.

    Also, during a migraine all of my senses become hypersensitive, especially touch and smell. When my wife and kids walk around the house I can feel the vibrations of their footsteps in my head. I try to explain this to them but they don’t understand.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    Riley,

    Thanks so much for being a part of this community and for commenting. Sorry it took me a couple of weeks to respond to you here–I’ve been having a rough migraine time lately.

    The story of your jumping into a hot bath after being in the snow makes me think of all the times I’ve been really cold and all I’ve dreamt of is a hot tub. I know once we celebrated my February birthday at a friend’s house sitting in an outdoor tub (cold faces, warm bodies), and my then-boyfriend/now-husband, who’s also a migraineur, ended up feeling really rough that night and the next day. I didn’t ever think of that hot-cold connection.

    There are some articles on this site about how migraineurs’ senses are heightened not only during an attack but also during migraine-free days. Perhaps sharing one of those will help your family understand. In the meantime, I guess we can hope they believe you even if they can’t understand.

    Take care; let us know how you’re doing today!

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • var122
    3 years ago

    This March was wicked for Migraines for me. I had the sensation & pressure that a bad one was going to happen at any time! Now, with the heat/humidity in full swing for Wisconsin, I have those same sensations reoccurring. I find that if I’m able to rest more that does help…it still sucks.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    var122,

    Good for you: recognizing the importance of rest is actually very difficult for folks, especially people who like to be active. I hope you’ll find some relief soon.

    -Janet G.

  • Vera Dora
    3 years ago

    I live in Ontario, Canada. I’ve suffered from migraine all my life. I was just diagnosed by a neurologist a month ago. Heat is a serious trigger for me. So is lack of sleep, eye strain, scents, high-pitched noises, bright sunshine, sun on my skin, tight clothes, jewellery. It seems I smell and hear things that others don’t! I’m so sensitive. Stress and anxiety make all of my triggers worse. My neurologist recommends cognitive behavioural therapy and tells me to stay away from migraine-causing scenarios. I’ve also discovered that all 3 of my children have inherited this condition. Also my mother and sibling have it. I finally installed an air conditioner in my bedroom and this has helped me tremendously. I also went to the eye doctor and got a new prescription for glasses with a slightly tinted lens to help with brightness and glare. I will also be learning some relaxation techniques at my CBT (Cognitive behavioral therapy) sessions and plan to take up yoga.

    I also discovered that using an umbrella (along with a sunhat and sunglasses) to shade me from the strong sun while weeding the garden really helps. Constant airflow is a must. I cannot be in any low lying areas where it is hot and muggy or I am guaranteed to have an attack.

    I am brand new to this site and appreciate knowing I am not the only one and that there is a life with migraine!!

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    Vera Dora,

    I’m so glad you found the site and took the time to respond. Your entire post made so much sense to me, and this in particular summed it all up for me: “It seems I smell and hear things that others don’t! I’m so sensitive. Stress and anxiety make all of my triggers worse.”

    Amen to that!

    It sounds like you’ve done a tremendous job figuring out what your triggers are. Your family is sure to start feeling better as well with you as such a strong role model as you learn to manage your illness. Please share your story and comment any time–we’re happy you’re here.

    Take care,
    Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • Melanie
    3 years ago

    Every time there is a chance of rain, or storms, or snow , it triggers a migraine. Passing of a cold front triggers them.
    I’m getting pretty good at forecasting the weather based on my migraines.
    Worst months for me seem to be January through April. Once real summer gets here I’m fine unless we get a bad storm or weird cold fronts passing through (like today.Woke with a migraine and storm clouds passing, supposed to rain tomorrow.)
    I wish there was some place to live that has less extremes in weather than where I live (SW Pa.)

  • SJD
    3 years ago

    The weather always is a trigger for me and my friend who also has migraines. In the autumn around Oct and Nov we call it migraine season.

    I live in Phoenix now and have far fewer migraines than when I lived in Denver due to it being lower altitude here.

    Whenever clouds roll in, it’s gray outside like it’s going to rain is a trigger for me big time.

    So I have far fewer migraines in Phoenix and when I do get one it’s much less severe but it’s so damn hot you can’t go outside for 5 months of the year.

  • l6yiqi
    3 years ago

    I am new to this I have have migraines since I was a teen. But since I have gotten older they have become a monthly occurrence. I felt this article very informative. I had no idea heat could be a trigger. I had a very bad week last week struggling with them. I also live in georgia and have had to spend time in my father in laws garden helping him. Knowing this helps so I cam try to figure out away to not set off that particular trigger. Thank you.

  • moore
    3 years ago

    I live in Muscle Shoals, AL 3 days last week the temps were 100-104 all three days I struggled with a migraine! I can usually tell if the barometric pressure rises or falls it triggers a migraine almost every time! The most difficult part is being at work when these things hit, I do my best to continue working however they do win out sometimes! My system has become my weather forecast whether it’s hot or cold! Life with migraines is unexplainable! Frustrating when you are afraid to even plan for anything!

  • SJD
    3 years ago

    Barometric pressure is a huge trigger for me too. When I wake up with a headache or migraine I know the weather has changed without even looking out the window.

  • Sean
    3 years ago

    Thank you ! At least I know I’m not alone in regards to my migraines being caused by the heat. I try to stay inside where it’s cooler and I’m beginning to seriously consider buying an air conditioner. I’m only allowed 18 rizatriptan odt’s pr month and I can get rid of a migraine but they will come back on me if it’s still hot out. Thanks for writing about this, I’ll save it for my Dr.
    Sean

  • Vera Dora
    3 years ago

    Get the air conditioner. It will help you tremendously. Keep all the blinds and curtains drawn so the sun doesn’t get in!! Good luck!!

  • AJ
    3 years ago

    I live in Austin and it’s around 102 this week. If I’m not hanging out in a pool, it’s hard for me to be out in the heat for any length of time. Heat and exercise are hard on my migraines. This coming weekend, my husband wants me to go with a scouting group on a hike for the day. It would include spending some time playing in a waterfall area. But my fear is that I’m not able to keep up with the teens and will overexert myself and trigger a really bad migraine. I so hate missing out on events but I just can’t afford to pay the price for going. It’s so frustrating sometimes!

  • 1v99kyy
    3 years ago

    I have been diagnosed with chronic migraine. I can tell when there is a weather front in our area because the sinus area below my right eye will begin shooting pains to the top of my skull. I absolutely Hate the months of January and February in the state of Kentucky. They seem to have the most fluctuations in weather in the past two years. Misery for a migraine sufferer such as I!

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    Oh, that’s rough. Thanks for your comment, and I hope you’re feeling okay today. 🙂

    -Janet G.

  • Anastasia
    3 years ago

    Hello from Athens, GA! 🙂

    These past couple of days have been milder, but like you and others here, the heat gets to me and if I am not careful, it absolutely triggers a migraine.

    Interestingly, I’ve noticed that while weather can be a trigger for me, it is not always so. Same with other triggers. I think for me there are specific combinations that sometimes form the perfect storm. Maybe that is true for others too?

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    Hello to you, fellow Athenian!

    I composed a reply earlier, but our power got shut off due to repairs and I lost my reply. Sorry for the delay!

    For me, it seems the reason why a trigger affects me one week and not the next is due to the “stacking” of triggers. For instance, I can often get away with having one or even three alcoholic drinks if mostly everything else in my life is smooth, but if I try to do that after a crazy thunderstorm that followed an all-day meeting under fluorescent lights, I will likely get a migraine. Does that make sense? You can read more here: https://migraine.com/blog/the-riskiness-of-stacking-triggers/

    I wonder if you’re dealing with the stacking of triggers on days when the weather does affect you more. What do you think? That would echo your “perfect storm” theory, I think, unless I misunderstand your thoughts.

    Take care; I hope you’re feeling well.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • Kim
    3 years ago

    I don’t know about the term ‘perfect storm’ for me. Seems I’m always yelling at my head, “But I did everything right!” There are definitely situations that will guarantee a migraine, that’s for sure. Like a visit to Mt. Rainier or attending an event where someone nearby is wearing enough perfume to kill a moose.

  • Lou
    3 years ago

    Yes! I usually have episodic migraines, but I have had one every day for the last month! I live in Birmingham and it has been miserably hot and humid here. I try to stay inside, but every afternoon the head pain comes along with the general malaise. Last week we vacationed in Hilton Head Island, SC. Same thing. Extreme heat and humidity with heat index up to 105. Ugh!

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    Lou,

    Oh, you know I feel your pain. Here’s hoping there’s a break in the weather and your migraines.

    Take care,
    Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • Thomas
    3 years ago

    Like the other posts I react severely to drastic weather particularly the heat. Back in the 80s I was an avid golfer and would leave the course with a massive, what I thought was a heat headache. I never thought I suffered migraines until the last 7 years.

    Sun glare is a massive trigger for me along with heat, changes in barometer and a host of other factors.

    Tom L

  • SJD
    3 years ago

    The sunlight also a trigger for me. I don’t go out into the heat except from my car to work and back home. I like my air conditioned house. Perfumes are a trigger men’s or women’s. Crying, sleeping too long, alcohol, stress and barometric pressure change.

    Good luck to you.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    Tom L.,

    Thanks for your post. Isn’t it fascinating (and perhaps upsetting) to look back on what you thought was one thing (heat headache) only to realize it was probably something else (migraine triggered by intense heat and glare). When you golfed, did you try to take extra measures to stay cool, or were you just keeping up with the other golfers? When I used to play basketball, I took my behavioral cues (when to drink water, when to ask for a break, etc.) usually from other players, who seemed to have much more stamina than I. Once I started drinking water when I needed to (versus when they had a break) and took time to cool down and ask for a break when I felt sick, things got easier–but that behavior didn’t lend itself to intense competition!

    Take care; I hope you’re feeling well today.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • a1k7ip
    3 years ago

    Like so many of the posts I have read i feel the weather in my bones and in my head! I live in very hot and humid Houston Texas. I have been feeling blah lately myself. Trying to figure out why. Then I read all the comments. Of course! Dont know why i did not make the connection! I am not having as many head exploding migraines lately but when i do they hit with a vegence! I have recently changed my job responsibilities so there is much less pressure from the job. Less tense! Between all the allergy triggers and headache triggers it makes perfect sense that the intense heat would affect me! I usually start with a serious sinus headache which eventually blows up into a migraine! I have just become a regular on this site and i appreciate all the posts! I will be a regular to hear all the suggestions and possibilities! So sad there are many of us who experience migraines but i appreciate the insights.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    grammyc,

    Thanks for the thoughtful post. I’m sorry to hear you’ve been suffering this summer, too, but am grateful you are finding a sense of camaraderie and insight on the site. We are happy to have you, and thanks again for your words.

    Take care; let us know how you’re doing.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • Kim
    3 years ago

    My body reacts to the weather even when indoors under ‘controlled’ conditions. I also live in Seattle and we have a/c in our bedroom. I’m pretty well trapped there. But even though I am staying moderately cool, I’ve been having daily migraines directly related to the weather. We just had two days of rain and that was lovely except for the low pressure migraine that came with it. Go to the mall or a movie? Nice a/c? Nope – the type of a/c at the mall causes my asthma to act up and that is a migraine trigger as well. If I could live in a temperature-controlled, hermetically-sealed pressurized box, well, just maybe I could get a day off. 😉 It’s easier to avoid migraine triggers like perfume/fragrances, bright light, stress, fluctuating blood sugar – the usual gauntlet. The weather leaves me powerless to do anything preventive.

  • SJD
    3 years ago

    Rainy days like the kind in Seattle are a huge trigger for me.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    Kim,

    I hear you! I’m so sorry to hear how rough the weather is on your health, but know you are not alone in this. The weather’s effect on me even when I hole up indoors reminds me how humans have only in recent times tried to cut themselves off from the outside world, usually to limited avail! The earth’s power and weather systems will affect us even if we are in our hermetically-sealed box. 🙂

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments; I hope you feel okay today.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • neverending
    3 years ago

    YES! YES! I live in Washington State where the Pacific NW is usually cool. June and July have been AWFUL with unprecedented heat of over 90-95 degrees this year. Of course, no one really has A/C (except the window kind, like me) and so these last few weeks have been horrible. Then on the days it cools off it usually rains (rain in Seattle? NO!) and that also triggers my migraines because of the huge fluctuation of temps and pressure. UGH! The “A/C Room” as we call it, helps, but not as much as I wish. So, I do the same things as you do and just hope that it gets cooler. Before I was “blessed” with Chronic Migraine almost 5 years ago, this never bothered me. I just do what I can and hope that tomorrow will be a better day (or just a little cooler!) 🙂

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    neverending,

    I’m so sorry to hear of your suffering, but know that you’re not alone. I hate that you’re feeling so bad this summer and that it’s been impossible to escape your weather-related triggers. The end of summer is in sight, so rest assured things should get a little easier.

    Take care, and thanks for your thoughtful comments.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • wdjbaxter
    3 years ago

    Yes! If it is too hot AND humid it gives me an instant migraine; even cooling down won’t get rid of it. Extreme cold gives me headaches and occasional migraines, but I have never really thought much about it until now. I live in a small town and the only other people that I know that get migraines are my mom and daughter, so I really don’t have many people to discuss symptoms with.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    wdjbaxter,

    Thanks for the thoughtful response. I am going to pay better attention to extreme cold’s effects on my health next time we have dropping temperatures. Extremes in weather are only going to get worse as time goes on, so I’d best be aware of how the shifts affect me (even if I can’t control the results very much).

    Take care; thanks again.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • debwilton
    3 years ago

    Absolutely! Unlike you, I’m hot all the time! I live in the Upper Peninsula of MI so I battle this year around. In the summer stores and churches keep the temp in the mid to low 70’s. My house is kept at 66 degrees and sometimes 64. It’s difficult to shop because of how warm it is to me.
    Then, in the winter, it gets SO COLD in January especially!!! I deal with the seasonal affective disorder! By March I’m dying to see grass which may not happen for another month or two!
    ANYWAY, my body ACHES in the extreme cold. The barometric pressures bother me year around- migraines, fibromyalgia, reynauds, SAD! Ugh! I hate it!
    I’m the same as you, except for our version of hot weather, lol. If it’s hot, 75-80 degrees, I have to be in water!!!

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    Oh, goodness. I imagine there’s not much farther north (or cooler) you could go to help combat this, debwilton. As someone who’s usually cold (apart from today and select summer days, when I can’t seem to cool off even in the AC), I never thought much about overheated buildings in the wintertime. Oh goodness. Do you carry ice water around with you year-round? I bet that could help.

    Take care; I hope you’re feeling okay.

    Sincerely,
    Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • ellebelle
    3 years ago

    Yes! I never really associated it with a heat wave, but now that I read this, it makes sense. I know my migraines are tied to storms and I know I am extremely heat sensitive. I didn’t understand why I was so blah lately, but we’ve been in a heat wave, so it makes sense now.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    ellebelle,

    Sometimes it takes me a long time to put two and two together. My mom has always been very heat-sensitive and was the one who finally helped me realize the connection the weather systems have on my health, even if I am indoors.

    Take care; I hope you’re feeling okay.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • maxgordon
    3 years ago

    Yes. Although I think all humans could be considered human barometers, those of us with chronic migraine seem even more sensitive to and affected by the weather, and especially by rapid shifts in pressure, temperature, and humidity.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    Well said, maxgordon. Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • 23r1c5h
    3 years ago

    I feel your pain. I stopped keeping an eye on the weather months ago to make sure that it was an actual trigger and not the power of suggestion at play. My fiancé was floored when I was able to accurately predict the weather just by how I felt the moment I woke up in the mornings. I get excruciatingly weak and so fatigued that just the mere thought of going to the bathroom was exhausting when a low pressure system is coming in and my migraine begins usually an hour before the storms would hit. It was a violent spring this year where I live (Southern Missouri), Tropical storm Bill threatened to bury me and it’s been one of the wettest summers on record as well. Days and days and days lost but I look at it as an advanced warning system for me. I can tell friends and family I’ll be out of action until the storms pass when I get weak and fatigued and they understand. It’s also helped them better grasp what’s going on with me and as far as I’m concerned, that’s a big victory.

  • The Migraine Girl moderator author
    3 years ago

    Stacey,

    Your story is pretty amazing (even if it is sad to think of all the time you’re missing out on daily life). It’s pretty awesome how learning more about your body and its patterns can actually render you a little more powerful and in control in some ways. Growing up, were you as attuned to your body as you have been recently? Do you engage in any mindfulness practice regularly? I ask because, often, it’s people who do mindfulness, yoga, or other relaxation techniques who are most in-tune with their body’s patterns.

    Take care; hope you’re feeling well today.

    -Janet G., “The Migraine Girl”

  • Amy
    3 years ago

    I always know when it’s going to storm. As soon as the barometer drops my mood swings, that’s my first sign, then all the sounds around me become so intense that I can barely stand it. Hopefully I’ve taken my rescue meds by now, otherwise it’s off to the ER before the end of the storm. Oh, the joys of migraines. 🙂

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