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  • 5 Summer Headaches and What You Can do About Them

    Get rid of your summer headaches

    Aaahhh summer. Sun & Fun. You look forward to summer all year, but once it gets here it’s over before you know it. That’s why it’s such a bummer when you get a summer headache! Summer brings with it its own kinds of headache that we don’t have to contend with the rest of the year. Here are 5 summer headaches and what you can do about them.

    Dehydration Headache

    You don’t have to have a clinical case of dehydration to have a dehydration headache. Although you can get a dehydration headache any time of year, you’re more prone to these headaches in the summer due to: sweating, increased alcoholic beverage consumption (which causes increased urine output), and increased physical activity. Happily, dehydration headaches are pretty easy to quench by simply drinking a glass or two of water.

    Heat Headache

    A throbbing headache when the temps climb can be an early sign of heat exhaustion, which can lead to heat stroke. Don’t chance it. If the heat is giving you a monster headache, cool yourself down. And don’t dawdle about it. Cool yourself down by moving into the shade, or better yet into an air conditioned building. Put your feet in a cool/cold water bath and put a cool wet towel on your forehead. Drinking cold water is another way to cool your internal temperature and should done regardless of any other measures you take, as heat stroke often strikes when heat exhaustion is paired with dehydration. If you have stopped sweating despite the heat or are on the verge of passing out  (or have already fainted from the heat), apply ice packs to the armpit, groin, neck, and back and call 911.

    Your guide to heat stroke is here at WebMD.

    Weather Headache

    When the barometric pressure falls, like it does right before a storm, it creates a pressure difference between the outside your head and the inside your head (namely your sinuses). This can cause headaches and migraines, especially if you already have sinus issues. Unfortunately you can’t change mother nature or your body’s reaction to her. Researchers aren’t sure of exactly why a dip in barometric pressure triggers headaches and migraines in some people but not in others, but they are working on it and have several theories. I’m only going to list the ones you might be able to do something about.

    One theory is that barometric pressure changes cause a change in oxygen levels. Your blood vessels will then expand or contract to compensate. A drop of peppermint essential oil on the base of the skull or back of the neck often helps when headaches have a vascular (blood vessel related) component. Peppermint oil has given many people relief from their weather related headaches so it’s worth a try.

    Another theory is that when the pressure changes, so does the electrical charge of the air. Some people find that going indoors and running an ionizer helps relieve or reduce their weather-related headache pain.

    Here’s a great resource with more in depth information that you may find useful if you think your headaches may be weather related: Barometric Pressure Headache Website

    Junk Food Headache

    Between graduation parties, weddings, picnics, and road trips, summer abounds with opportunities to overindulge in junk food.

    There are many reasons that you might get a junk food headache:

    • Blood sugar spikes and crashes
    • Constipation – junk food can cause constipation for a variety of reasons, many of which also cause headaches
    • Dehydration – fried foods like chips and beverages like alcohol can cause you to become dehydrated
    • Chemicals – most junk food is filled with a chemical soup, and those chemicals, especially when ingested in large quantities, can give you a headache
    • MSG – Although technically this one fits into the broader category of chemicals, it also warrants its own entry. Why? Because MSG is a neurotoxin! That means it poisons your nerves, which is a pretty good reason for your body to develop a headache.

    There are also a couple factors that will exacerbate your junk food headache:

    • Hormones – If your monthly hormonal cycle often leaves you craving junk food, your headache may also have a hormonal component
    • Lack of sleep – If you are one of those people who tries to cram as much fun into summer as they possibly can, it’s likely sleep deprivation is also playing a role in your junk food cravings.

    The best way to cure a junk food headache is to prevent it in the first place. If that’s not possible, eat something healthy and wholesome that’s low in sugar and high in protein and fiber. I know this will shock you, but drinking water will also help a junk food headache, especially if it’s being caused by chemicals as it will help dilute them and push them through your kidneys, which act a filter, faster.

    Brain Freeze Headache

    There’s nothing like a cold beverage or treat on a hot day. There’s also nothing quite like a brain freeze. A brain freeze is caused when something cold touches the roof of your mouth, especially the back part where it’s all soft (the soft palate). This causes the blood vessels to contract at first to prevent loss of body heat, but they quickly expand once the drink or treat is no longer in contact. It’s this rapid expansion of the blood vessels and the corresponding increase in blood flow that causes your brain freeze headache.

    To prevent a brain freeze:

    • Don’t eat or drink really cold things. Ha! Like that’s gonna happen.
    • Don’t let cold drinks and treats touch the roof of your mouth. Let it warm up on the front part of your tongue for a quick second before letting it touch the roof of your mouth.

    To stop your brain freeze:

    • Drink something warm. Yeah, I’m not doing that one either; but it will work.
    • Warm the roof of your mouth by rolling your tongue and holding the underside of your tongue (which is warmer than the top) against the roof of your mouth. Some people find that they require a very firm pressure, so go ahead and really push your tongue against the roof of your mouth if your first attempt doesn’t stop your headache.
    • Cover your mouth and nose with your hand and breathe quickly into your hand to warm the inside of your mouth.
    • Press a warm thumb against your palate.

    Do have another way to get rid of summer headaches? Please share in the comments below.