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Autumn is here and it is time for fire-pits, s’mores, trick-or-treaters, pumpkin-spiced everything, and for some, an increase in migraine symptoms. As the autumn leaves colors of red and gold brighten the horizon, as the season change also creates changes that can trigger migraines.
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.
Cynthia Armand, MD, a physician at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York, explains the reason.
“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.
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.
As our “Migraine Brains” adjust to the 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.
People that have 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.
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.
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