Can a Hot Day Give You a Headache?
Find out how heat and other weather factors can affect your head pain.
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.
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.
1. Mukamal KJ, Wellenius GA, Suh HH, Mittleman MA. Weather and air pollution as triggers of severe headaches. Neurology. 2009;72(10):922-927. doi:10.1212/01.wnl.0000344152.56020.94. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2677474/
2. Zebenholzer K1, Rudel E, Frantal S, Brannath W, Schmidt K, Wöber-Bingöl C, Wöber C. Migraine and weather: a prospective diary-based analysis. Cephalalgia. 2011; (4):391-400. doi: 10.1177/0333102410385580. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21112983
3. Prince, P. B., Rapoport, A. M., Sheftell, F. D., Tepper, S. J. and Bigal, M. E. (2004), The Effect of Weather on Headache. Headache: The Journal of Head and Face Pain, 44: 596–602. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4610.2004.446008.x http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15186304