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When it is time for a season change and the clocks spring forward or fall back, my brain seems to going into an open rebellion. It rebels against too much change at one time. These shifts trigger a season of Status Migrainosus that will typically require hospitalization.
So what is the problem with the season change that causes the issue? Let’s take a look at some of the factors that seem to create the perfect Migraine Storm.
What Factors Cause Triggers as the Season Change?
Barometric pressure change is the most common seasonal migraine trigger. As the seasons change, the barometric pressures shift and these changes, though sometimes minor, can trigger Migraine attacks in people that are highly susceptible to barometric pressure changes.
“Our head is made up of pockets of air that we call sinuses. Usually, those pockets of air are at equilibrium with the atmospheric pressure,” Armand said. “When there’s a change in that atmospheric pressure, it creates a change, kind of like a shift, between what you’re experiencing in your head and what’s going on in the air.” That abrupt change may trigger migraine.Cynthia Armand, MD, physician at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York
Temperature changes in that come with each season can also be a trigger for migraine attacks. In the fall, as summer temperatures give way to cooler ones, the humidity typically will also decrease. As the season starts to change these changes fluctuate and it is these fluctuations that can trigger a migraine.
The shorter days can trigger changes in your sleep cycle and that can make it difficult to get enough rest. This change doesn’t necessarily happen at the end of Daylight Savings Time but as the times of sunset and sunrise get closer together. Lack of sleep is a major migraine trigger, so it is important to make sure you are getting enough rest.
In the Spring, as the temperatures rise, the barometric pressure can become unstable as spring storm fronts come through. The days are also getting longer and then we compound that will Daylight Savings Time. The combination of that and the pollen that is common in my location, it is a perfect Migraine Storm.
As our “Migraine Brains” adjust to a changing season, it is important to maintain a structured schedule. Doing this will do a lot to combat the problems with sleep and it will keep your body in a rhythm.
What This Means for Me
My Doctor is always mentioning how my migraines are circadian in nature. That means that my brain does not like changes in routine such as what the season changes create. He always knows that I am going to have a difficult time at the beginning of every new season. For example, I have had 35 Migraine attacks in the pat 17 days. Unfortunately, this increase in number comes with an increase in severity of symptoms as well.
I am also sensitive to barometric pressure changes and my brain is more accurate than 99% of the weathermen. Weather fronts that usually start coming in from the west in the fall and winter can cause drastic changes in the barometric pressure. On these days, I have to plan for a day of rest and self care. Spring Storm fronts fortunately move quicker but can have drastic drops and rises in barometric pressure in a short period of time. On days where there is a high probability of storm, I have to mentally prepare for the worst.
People that suffer from Migraines are more susceptible to an increase of migraine attacks during the change of the seasons. In the autumn, cooler temperatures, barometric pressure changes and shorter days combine to make a season of fun and great smells into a season of pain. In the Spring, the longer days and warmer climate with higher humidity come together to make the spring season less enjoyable than it should be.
Migraine Explained Series
- Migraine Explained: Silent Migraine
- Migraine Explained: Migrainous Stroke
- Migraine Explained: Phantosmia
- Migraine Explained: Postdrome Phase
- Migraine Explained: Headache Phase
Disclaimer: This blog post provides general information and my firsthand accounts about a serious medical condition. The words and other content provided in this blog, and in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice.