Avoiding Summer Headaches

Posted on September 3rd, 2015 by Seth Nickinson

It turns out that as the temperature rises, so does the risk of headaches in some people. In one Harvard University study of more than 7,000 emergency room patients diagnosed with headaches, the patients’ short-term risk of severe headache increased 7.5 percent with every 9 degree Fahrenheit rise in temperature during the 24 hours preceding a patient’s ER visit.

Sun on Power Line

Credit: Flickr user Craig Chew-Moulding

Drink Mas Agua

It’s no joke to stay hydrated in the summer. Dehydration is a major source of headaches for many people.  How much to drink? There are no hard and fast rules, but at least 64 ounces of non-sweetened fluids a day can’t hurt. It takes an average of 64 to 80 ounces to replace the water our bodies lose in 24 hours.

WHAT you drink can make a difference, too. Large quantities of soda or iced tea, although summer favorites, have a great deal of caffeine. Lemonade is lovely unless citrus is a migraine trigger for your or your stomach is sensitive to all the acid. Water is always a good choice!

Watch Our for Bright Sun

Summer sun can be one of our worst enemies, and not just because of sunburn (read our article on how to prevent that). Too much time in the summer sun is another serious headache and migraine trigger. But that doesn’t require staying indoors. Try hats with broad brims that keep sun off your neck, upper chest and back as well as your face. Beach umbrellas can be great, and not just for the beach – take them to a ball game or a summer event. You can also cool yourself down with a spray bottle of water or a cold, wet bandana around your neck.

Headache Coming On

credit: Flickr user Andy

Easy on the Dogs

The summer staple contains nitrites, which may cause headaches in some sensitive individuals. While nitrates are generally present in foods in very small quantities, sensitivity to the chemicals can vary greatly. If eating other processed meats such as salami and bacon tends to cause you headaches, it’s probably a good idea to swap the hot dog for a burger.


A lot of us are slathering on a lot more product in the summer. In fact, in a prior article, we asked you to Slip, Slap, Slop, and Wrap to prevent sun damage. But, all those sunscreens, bug repellents, skin creams and fresh spritzes can have funny fragrances.

Are you sensitive to fragrances and/or other odors?  Look for fragrance-free products when doing summer shopping. If you’re not sure about chemical names listed in the ingredients, your pharmacist may be able to help you, or try the Skin Deep cosmetics database for great information.


credit: Flickr user Jessica Lucia

Wear Those Shades

Summer can be tough on the eyes. Invest in some good sunglasses. Polarized lenses are great because, in addition to darkening, they cut glare. If you can go for optical grade lenses, do. They aren’t as likely to produce distortion as inexpensive sunglasses. Still troubled by light from around your glasses? Try a baseball cap or another type of hat to block out the sun that comes in from above the sunglasses.

Cheap sunglasses can actually cause headaches. The junky dark tint allows the pupils to dilate and then more ultraviolet (UV) rays enter the eye. Plus, you might just spend more time in the bright sun, thinking you are shaded. Make sure your chosen shades filter both UVA and UVB light.

sunglasses on kid

Have a great summer, and protect that brain!