32 HEAD WISE |
THE SUMMER HEADACHE
Ways to Avoid
BY ALLECIA VERMILLION
As temperature rises and outdoor adventures begin, follow these tips to avoid summer headache.
counter medications. But come summer, Greason says she expects to have an intense headache episode about every three weeks. She takes special care during hot weather to eat right, get rest and drink plenty of water, often mixing in a quarter-part fruit juice for flavor. On vacations or weekend outings, she diligently checks for access to shade and fluids, and stocks the car with umbrellas and ice packs. Technically there’s no such diagnosis as “summer headache,” notes Vincent T. Martin, MD, vice president of the National Headache Foundation (NHF) and professor of medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in Cincinnati. And though some recent data suggest the summer months are the most common time for headaches, Dr. Martin says “there are lots of potential different reasons for that” and heat may not be the lone cause. Like any other season, summer brings with it a unique set of triggers: sunlight, dehydration, increased physical activity, allergies and humidity, among others. But smart choices and coping methods can help people with headache stay pain free so they can enjoy the summer months.
Nicole Greason says her fiancé can tell when she’s about to get a migraine. First comes the pinched look on her face. Then her eyes don’t look quite right. That’s when he sends her to lie down, pulls out the ice pack and brings her fluids to drink, says Greason, 46, who works in marketing and public relations at Arizona State University. It’s a lesson learned from past trips to the emergency room when her migraines were especially bad. “It is the worst pain that you can experience,” Greason says. “It goes beyond broken bones and torn ligaments.” While she’s never been able to pinpoint the exact triggers for her headaches, she does know this: “They feel worse, they are more intense and the duration is longer during the summertime.” Either directly or indirectly, the main culprit seems to be heat, which can make life difficult considering Greason lives in Chandler, Ariz., where summertime temperatures regularly rise above 100 degrees and the heat can stretch well into October. For most of the year, her attacks come about two months apart and are often manageable with over-theVolume 2, Issue 2 • 2012