The Beauty and The Beast: Springtime in the City
My town has been a sight to see since spring has sprung: walking around, I’ve noticed that beautiful color is starting to fill the parks with lush green and bright orange, sunshine is starting to come through brighter and warmer each day, and people are spending more time out and about, giving the air a musical, bouncy ambiance again after the last few months of winter’s cold. It feels…alive. Spring is really quite beautiful here in the Southern US. I love watching rain fall and wash the streets in a glossy shine, and I especially like to watch water droplets against the wonderful, bright spring coloration of the landscape during this time. Of course, I can’t forget the sights of the many beautiful gardens in town bearing fruits and vegetables, as well–something about the liveliness of spring just makes me feel radiant and warm and ripe for growth, too!
Tripple whammy season
All that genuinely said, I also kind of …well, actually really dread this time of year. It is the ultimate dissonance. See, in my neck of the woods, spring also means many of the environments around are filled with sticky air, hot temperatures, and allergens galore. Spring is actually what I like to call triple whammy season around here: the combination of allergies, asthma, and migraine make for an intense couple of months where I constantly feel like my head is going to just roll off, with constant nose sniffles, puffy eyes, difficulty breathing, and daily migraines, spring is truly the real life poster child for the beauty and the beast.
Migraine and allergies
Many with migraine experience allergies and sinus pain that feel as though they run on a feedback loop: sinus pain and allergies can trigger migraines for some and make for a very uncomfortable experience. A lot of the time, migraine and sinus headaches are confused for one another because they actually share a lot of similar symptoms, and spring time can make it incredibly difficult to distinguish between the two.
Some important distinctions are that sinus head pain can oftentimes be accompanied by sore throat and post-nasal drip, as well as allergy symptoms like eye irritation and itchiness, while migraine classically has symptoms that include for a lot of people nausea and light sensitivity. Of course, each person is different, and many of us who suffer from migraines AND sinus pain with allergies experience the whole lot.
Treating the most prominent pain and symptoms can sometimes be confusing when its a slew of different yet similar pain going on, but one thing is for sure—the combination of migraine and allergies can be a rough ride for many of us. For me, I wake up nearly every morning feeling like I’ve clenched my teeth to heck and with an intense, blinding migraine. The migraine typically only slightly masks in pain intensity the nearly as uncomfortable itchy eyes and throat and dripping nose that just won’t go. UGH.
To boot, I also have idiopathic anaphylaxis–which means I can get a flare up of hives, throat closing, skin puffing, and an all out anaphylactic episode at any time to just about anything and there is very little to prevent it or known about what causes it! I have been hospitalized a few times for it, and what seems to be a normal day by all accounts can suddenly turn into a nightmare. An experience that will sound very familiar to many migraine patients I am sure. I keep an Epipen on me at all times, but spring just makes it so much more scary to be out and about with its increased level of classic allergens!
Migraine and asthma
There is of course as well, the toll spring has on those of us who are also comorbidly asthmatic (and if you are, like me, check out our sister site Asthma.net for loads of pertinent information about living with Asthma). For me, breathing is difficult enough already, but the increased allergens and pollen not only trigger intense migraines for me, they also make breathing feel like a marathon. My morning regiment switches during the spring from primarily migraine specific medication to one that consists of nasal spray, inhalers, all day allergy relief medicine, and a cold rag over the eyes for both migraine and puffy face.
How I enjoy the season
With spring bringing with it the need to be extra cautious and careful not to trigger migraines, along with the persistent allergy and asthma discomfort, I really try to steal back some of the beautiful breath spring also has to offer. That just means for me taking a bit more precaution. I always keep an Epipen on hand for one, just in case (but also fingers crossed it never comes to that on a regular day, cause that’s an entire ER trip just waiting to happen), as well as an inhaler, all day allergy, wipes, nasal spray, triptans, nausea medication, sunglasses. That’s quite a bit to pack, but many migraine folks will agree that our bags are usually comically stacked to the brim with cautionary, preventative, and rescue medication and tools, just in case. Spring can be tough, but it is also so incredibly beautiful and, as a state, in my opinion is just absolutely inspiring. I refuse to cede that inspiration totally to migraine, allergies, and asthma.
Do your migraines increase in frequency or intensity during the spring or other seasons? Do allergies affect your migraines at all? Let’s discuss in the comments!