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When winter means more migraines

An older adult putting his fingers to his head and grimacing.

Dec. 26, 2022—If you have migraine headaches, you likely already know that certain triggers—from foods to stress to bright lights—can bring on attacks. But did you know that winter weather might also mean more migraines?

To be clear, migraine triggers vary from person to person. But some people get more attacks in winter. (Keeping a migraine journal that includes notes about the weather may help you identify if winter is a trigger for you.) Here, with information from the American Migraine Foundation and other medical experts, are some of the ways winter may spark migraines, along with some helpful suggestions.

Cold and dry air. Dry, winter air can leave you dehydrated, which may trigger migraines. Drinking more water or using a humidifier to moisten the air in your home may help you manage this potential risk.

Extreme cold or wind. If plummeting temps or blustery winds bring on a migraine, bundling up to stay warm might help you lessen this risk. During extreme cold (which can bring other hazards, too, such as frostbite and hypothermia), it may be best to stay indoors.

Changes in barometric pressure. Also known as atmospheric pressure, it changes with the seasons and stormfronts. Temperature swings—moving into fall and winter and back to spring—can also spell migraine trouble. Keeping an eye on weather forecasts may help you be ready to quickly stop a potential migraine, if medications are part of your treatment plan.

Changes in sleep. Disrupted sleep schedules may trigger migraines. Keep that in mind as the days get shorter, possibly leading your snooze habits to change. Try your best to hit the pillow on time and to wake up at the same time each day so that your sleep schedule will stay about the same throughout the year.

How much do you know about headache triggers? Check your knowledge by taking a quick quiz.


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