Summer headaches and migraines

Drinking plenty of fluids, reducing exposure to direct sunlight, paying attention to food triggers, and not avowing overexertion can reduce the potential for frequent and severe headaches. However, even with these precautions’ headaches will happen and may require analgesics.

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Lucknow: A man drinks water to quench his thirst on a hot summer day, at Hazratganj crossing in Lucknow, Friday, May 13, 2022. (Image Credit: PTI)

By Dr. Sahil Kohli

As the temperatures during the summer soar in the Delhi NCR region so are the patients’ complaints of headaches and Migraine exacerbations. Summer heat can be a contributor to both headaches and migraines. The milder form of summer headache may include a throbbing sensation in the head, fatigue, sensitivity to light and sound and dehydration. Sometimes a headache can be caused by heat exhaustion and has features of dizziness, muscle cramps, fainting attacks, numbness around the face and neck, nausea and vomiting, pale and cold clammy skin, drenching sweats, and weakness and fatigue and insatiable thirst. Heat exhaustion headaches need to be attended immediately as they may progress to heatstroke.

For the people who already have migraines, the summer heat can trigger migraine attacks and they have increased frequency and intensity of pain. Ways to prevent these exacerbations include
1. Drinking a lot of water (staying hydrated)
2. Limiting outdoor times on hotter days.
3. Sunglasses, a hat, and sunscreen can also help.
4. limiting exercises to indoors If you need to exercise, try to stay indoors in an air-conditioned environment.
5. Cold compresses, iced herbal teas (without caffeine), and NSAIDs can help reduce the intensity of the headache.

Importance of staying hydrated: As a rule of thumb, you should drink at least 2 litres of water. However, during hot summer days when you are active, you might need to increase that to about 2½ litres. When you are dehydrated, the brain can shrink and this causes the brain to pull away from the skull, causing a headache. When you relieve your dehydration, the brain returns to a normal state, relieving the headache. Coconut water and sports drinks that contain electrolytes and plenty of water including nimboo pani and shikanji will also help you stay hydrated.

Exercise and summer: When a person exercises, the blood vessels within their skull dilate. If you participate in strenuous activities, like running, weightlifting, or team sports (like volleyball), these can contribute to a headache. Avoiding activities like these in high heat is advisable. However, another way to avoid headaches related to exercise is to develop a set of warm exercises, which can help prevent headaches. Some good warmup exercises include stretches, followed by some light jogging and walking.

Avoid taking foodstuff that contains nitrates and or MSG (monosodium glutamate) or food with high salt content like pickles and processed foods. Rather focus on salads, juices, and yoghurt and avoid caffeine, red wine, chocolates, and aged cheese.

Overall headaches are more frequent during summer. Drinking plenty of fluids, reducing exposure to direct sunlight, paying attention to food triggers, and not avowing overexertion can reduce the potential for frequent and severe headaches. However, even with these precautions’ headaches will happen and may require analgesics. If a migraine headache is happening more than 4 times a month will need medical help for preventive or prophylactic therapy can be considered under the supervision of a neurologist.

(The author is a Senior Consultant- Neurology, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Gurugram. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of FinancialExpress.com.)

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