When it’s warm out, you might be prepping for beach escapes and road trips — but should you also be ready for more frequent headaches and migraines? Let’s examine the research.
Many people believe that weather changes, such as hot and sunny days, can trigger a headache or worsen symptoms. 2 Because of this common belief, many studies have examined this connection 1 2 3, but the findings haven’t been so clear: Some research studies have shown that warm weather can trigger headaches in some people 1, while others found no significant connection 2.
For example, in a study with more than 7,000 participants treated at a Boston hospital's emergency department, higher temperatures were found to increase the risk of headache. 1 In fact, the researchers reported that for every 5 degree Celsius (9 degree Fahrenheit) increase in temperature, the headache risk increased by approximately 7.5%. 1
But other studies have found no connection 2 . For instance, a small study in Vienna compared the detailed headache diaries of 238 migraine sufferers with 17 different weather situations during a set testing period (90 days) 2 . The researchers concluded that weather factors had a small and questionable impact on migraines and headaches. 2
Other environmental factors may also play a role 3 . One small study surveying people in New York and Connecticut found that when weather was a migraine factor, heat was the most common cause, but more than 25% of participants were also affected by changes in barometric pressure 3 . To complicate matters further, this survey also found that more people thought weather affected their migraines than was actually the case 3 .
Everyone’s headache and migraine triggers are different, and weather may play a role for some.
And remember that other triggers may include lack of sleep, stress, and diet.
Keeping track of your head pain and your potential triggers in a headache diary might help you better understand your specific situation. Be sure to consult your doctor to find the best treatment for you.