For some of us, summer is no time to rejoice. Rather, it is the season of dread, thanks to the headaches it brings on, whether tension type headaches, sinus headaches, or migraines. Did you know that for every 5°C rise in temperature, your risk of getting a headache goes up by 7.5%? So says an Israeli study on 7,000 headache sufferers. The high-risk summer months are April to September.1 If staying indoors during the high noon is not an option, prevent and get rid of headaches caused by summer heat by wearing sunglasses, drinking enough water, using essential oils like peppermint or eucalyptus oil, applying hot and cold packs, and eating ginger.
Most Summer-Heat Induced Headaches Are Migraines
Migraine patients are the most affected by summer heat, which for some can be a trigger. It can cause unbearable pain in one side of the head along with nausea, vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound.
People prone to tension-type headaches, which are caused by stress, dehydration, skipping meals, or bright sunlight, may also be affected by summer heat, especially if any or several of these triggers are already present.
People with sinus are more affected by a cold, damp weather, but change in air pressure on summer days can trigger their sinus pain. However, many mistake their migraines for sinus pain.
If the cause of your headache is dehydration, you can easily get relief from the pain by rehydrating your body.
A shot of coffee can also help. But you need to drink more water to make up for its diuretic effects.
Simply drink a glass of water at the first sign of a headache and continue taking small sips throughout the day. You may also mix some salt in your water to balance the levels of electrolytes.
If you know it’s a sinus headache, drink some pineapple juice. It is known to dilute the mucus and help expel it.
2. Use Hot And Cold Packs
If you have a tension type or sinus headache, hold a heating pad to the back of your head. A warm bath may also help.
If you have migraine, hold a cold pack to your temple and forehead for 15 minutes. Then keep it away for the next 15 minutes. Apply again. You may even take a bath in cold water.2
3. Use Essential Oils
- Peppermint oil: Apply a peppermint oil- or menthol-based gel to your temples for migraine. If you have peppermint oil at home, mix it with a bit of alcohol and rub on the part of the head that is throbbing.
- Lavender oil: You may also inhale the aroma of lavender oil for 15 minutes. Or mix it with a vegetable oil and rub it on the head and the temples.3
If you are prone to summer headaches, carry a small vial of lavender oil or basil oil in your bag.
- Basil oil: Take a drop of basil oil on a finger and transfer it to the other hand. Now rub it near your temples or at the base of your skull.4
- Eucalyptus oil: Add 3–7 drops of eucalyptus oil into boiling water. Cover your head with a towel. Lower your face near the bowl of water and inhale the steam. Eucalyptus contains a compound called cineol or eucalyptol which has been seen to relieve sinus without the intervention of antibiotics.5
4. Eat Ginger
Ginger powder can reduce the severity of your headache, if it is caused by migraine, within 2 hours. In this, it’s as good as sumatropin, a common migraine medicine.
Take 500 mg of ginger at the onset of a migraine and repeat every 4 hours. Don’t exceed 2 g ginger. Continue this routine for 3–4 days.6
Ginger being anti-inflammatory, ginger tea can help you with a sinus or tension headache too.
Note: Having too much ginger could lead to heartburn and diarrhea. If you are prone to either or have IBS or any other gastrointestinal disorder, it might be wise to skip this remedy altogether.7
5. Relax And Meditate
One of the best ways to cure a headache naturally is to engage in relaxation therapy. You can do this in various ways such as deep breathing and meditation.
- Take deep, long, and slow breaths expanding your abdomen rather than your chest.
You can practice deep breathing anywhere, even at work. Excuse yourself for 10 minutes, find a quiet place, and take deep, long, and slow breaths.
- Focus on your breathing. Or close your eyes and imagine a flame. If your mind drifts, don’t get agitated. Bring it back gently to the breathing.8
- Think of beautiful places or events that fill you with happiness or calmness.9
6. Shield Yourself
Bright sunlight is a common headache trigger, especially in people who are prone to migraines with aura. Protect yourself from both bright light and glare with sunglasses10 and wide-brimmed hats. Carry an umbrella if it’s not inconvenient.
7. Avoid Triggers
Maintain a headache diary to identify the usual suspects, that is your headache triggers. Sometimes, it is possible that the summer heat is only adding on to an existing condition triggered by other factors like certain foods or a change in routine.
Avoid skipping meals or eating excessively spicy food that can affect your digestion. Both tension type headaches and migraines are often caused by eating irregularities.11
Avoid food additives like monosodium glutamate (MSG) in fast foods and seasoning, too much salami, bacon, hot dogs, and cured meats, and too much coffee or alcohol. If you have a sinus issue, avoid cold water and frozen foods.
Follow these and do not let summer steal the spring in your step.
|↑1||Mukamal, Kenneth J., Gregory A. Wellenius, Helen H. Suh, and Murray A. Mittleman. “Weather and air pollution as triggers of severe headaches.” Neurology 72, no. 10 (2009): 922-927.|
|↑2||Hot and Cold Packs/Showers. National Headache Foundation.|
|↑3||Sasannejad, Payam, Morteza Saeedi, Ali Shoeibi, Ali Gorji, Maryam Abbasi, and Mohsen Foroughipour. “Lavender essential oil in the treatment of migraine headache: a placebo-controlled clinical trial.” European neurology 67, no. 5 (2012): 288-291.|
|↑4||Karen Downes, Judith White. Aromatherapy for Men: A Scentual Grooming and Lifestyle Guide for Every Male Using Essential Oils. Balboa Press, 2011.|
|↑5||Kehrl, Wolfgang, Uwe Sonnemann, and Uwe Dethlefsen. “Therapy for Acute Nonpurulent Rhinosinusitis With Cineole: Results of a Double‐Blind, Randomized, Placebo‐Controlled Trial.” The Laryngoscope 114, no. 4 (2004): 738-742.|
|↑6||Maghbooli, Mehdi, Farhad Golipour, Alireza Moghimi Esfandabadi, and Mehran Yousefi. “Comparison between the efficacy of ginger and sumatriptan in the ablative treatment of the common migraine.” Phytotherapy Research 28, no. 3 (2014): 412-415.|
|↑7||Ginger. University Of Colorado Denver.|
|↑8||Zeidan, Fetal, J. A. Grant, C. A. Brown, J. G. McHaffie, and R. C. Coghill. “Mindfulness meditation-related pain relief: evidence for unique brain mechanisms in the regulation of pain.” Neuroscience letters 520, no. 2 (2012): 165-173.|
|↑9||Six relaxation techniques to reduce stress. Harvard Health Publications.|
|↑10||Alstadhaug, K. B., R. Salvesen, and S. I. Bekkelund. “Seasonal variation in migraine.” Cephalalgia 25, no. 10 (2005): 811-816.|
|↑11||Tension-type headaches. NHS.|