Warming Up With Migraine
Last updated: May 2019
Now that it is getting hot outside, I know that I have to be much more diligent in my migraine care and attentiveness. The combination of increased temperatures and heightened levels of allergens in the air make for a difficult to navigate seasonal increase in potential and known triggers for me. I also deal with a sun allergy and idiopathic anaphylaxis, so working to prevent episodes and attacks when I can, and dealing with the pain and discomfort when I can’t, requires a lot of due diligence on my part.
Allergens as a migraine trigger
My caretaker, G, has a beautiful and well taken care of garden full of interesting flora and vegetation. The fruits, vegetables and herbs smells wonderful and look great. Unfortunately, even though it's just in the backyard, I have only seen photos of a lot of the progress of the garden. G will capture a slideshow of each day's work to show to me, usually as we are winding down for the day. I wish I could spend more time out there tending to the plants, especially because I know this is an activity that they would love to share together, but unfortunately I am sensitive to...well outside in general during this time.
While the seasonal blooming of flowers and vegetables is both delicious and beautiful, the onslaught of pollen in the air, bees and insects buzzing around, and grass growing tall can have a less than pretty impact on folks living with migraine who are sensitive to allergens in the air, or for folks who deal with comorbidities such as asthma.
Navigating spring and summer with migraine
For me, navigating the spring and summer weather is a constant balance of fending off migraine attacks, anaphylactic attacks, and asthma attacks. Each day comes with a lot of anxiety about going outside, because I worry something will be (and something usually is) triggering, causing me to feel at best all day discomfort, and at worst completely ill. Keeping up with allergen triggers for me entails taking a non-drowsy antihistamine each morning, along with vitamins, drinking plenty of water, carrying an albuterol inhaler taken as needed throughout the day, as well as an Epi-Pen, and taking my migraine prescriptions in the morning, while keeping OTC medication on hand like Excedrin throughout the day. Wew! That’s a lot, however it makes a world of difference in my anxiety and actual preparedness to take time to make sure I am ready to deal with any flare ups or attacks each day during these vulnerable seasons.
Heat as a migraine trigger
For some in the migraine community, heat and sun exposure are uncomfortable and at times inevitable migraine triggers. Especially in the summer months, avoiding heat can be tricky. For me, my sun allergy makes it so that I have a fear of the sun, because prolonged exposure can leave me with a horrible itchy rash. Heat exposure is also a big migraine trigger for me. Being prepared to deal with the heat means staying hydrated and keeping bottled water stocked and ready to go, keeping cold packs on hand, staying cool with AC or windows down when in a car, and making sure to find somewhere shaded or cool when I feel an attack coming on. Sometimes a trip to a pool can be just the trick for me, if there is covering or shade near or around the water.
Exhaustion during the spring and summer months
I find myself feeling so much more exhausted during the spring and summer months after each day, even if my activity levels are relatively unchanged from the cooler months. During times where I feel exhausted but I have to push through or strain to get through the day, I tend to also be dealing with Migraine symptoms. Allocating time and planning for rest, with a fan going in a dark room is a MUST for me during the hotter months of the year. Recovering, resting, and cooling off can make an unbearably hot and painful day more manageable.
Do you struggle to deal with migraine symptoms and triggers that are particular to the warmer months? What do you do to deal with the heat? Let’s discuss in the comments!
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