Autumn Seasonal Migraine Explained

By Jennifer

Autumn is here and it is time for fire-pits, s’mores, trick-or-treaters, pumpkin-spiced everything, and for some, an increase in migraine symptoms. As the autumn leaves colors of red and gold brighten the horizon, the season change also creates changes that can trigger migraines.

What Factors Cause These Triggers as Autumn Comes?

Barometric pressure change is the most common seasonal migraine trigger. As the seasons change, the barometric pressures shift and these changes, though sometimes minor, can trigger migraine attacks in people that are highly susceptible to barometric pressure changes.

Cynthia Armand, MD, a physician at the Montefiore Medical Center in New York, explains the reason.

“Our head is made up of pockets of air that we call sinuses. Usually, those pockets of air are at equilibrium with the atmospheric pressure,” Armand said. “When there’s a change in that atmospheric pressure, it creates a change, kind of like a shift, between what you’re experiencing in your head and what’s going on in the air.” That abrupt change may trigger migraine.

Temperature changes in that come with each season can also be a trigger for migraine attacks. In the fall, as summer temperatures give way to cooler ones, the humidity typically will also decrease. As the season starts to change these changes fluctuate and it is these fluctuations that can trigger a migraine.

The shorter days can trigger changes in your sleep cycle and that can make it difficult to get enough rest. This change doesn’t necessarily happen at the end of Daylight Savings Time but as the times of sunset and sunrise get closer together. Lack of sleep is a major migraine trigger, so it is important to make sure you are getting enough rest.

As our “Migraine Brains” adjust to the changing season, it is important to maintain a structured schedule. Doing this will do a lot to combat the problems with sleep and it will keep your body in a rhythm.

What This Means For Me

My Doctor is always mentioning how my migraines are circadian in nature. That means that my brain does not like changes in routine such as what the season changes create. He always knows that I am going to have a difficult time at the beginning of every new season. This week alone, I am only averaging around 3 hours of sleep each night and this is typical during each season change.

I am also highly sensitive to barometric pressure changes and my brain is more accurate than 99% of the weathermen out there. Weather fronts that usually start coming in from the west in the fall and winter can cause drastic rises and falls in the barometric pressure and on these days, I have to plan for a day of rest and self care.

In conclusion, people that have migraines are more susceptible to an increase of migraine attacks during the change of the seasons. In the autumn, the cooler temperatures, barometric pressure changes and shorter days combine to make a season of fun and great smells into a season of pain.




3 thoughts on “Autumn Seasonal Migraine Explained

  1. Paul says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    Nice article.

    Autumn for me is migraine season. But for a migraine to strike with any great intensity, it must be accompanied by a number of other factors.

    Stress is the most obvious.
    Sure we can try to arrange our environment in such a way so as to minimize stress, but this isn’t always possible (We all have a plan until life smacks us in the mouth, to paraphrase a famous pugilist)

    Another factor that’s often overlooked is poor posture, in particular forward head posture
    (or “office guy syndrome”)
    In addition to being quite literally a pain in the neck, this can greatly exacerbate migraines.

    Fixing this issue certainly made a big difference for me.

    (By the way, for anyone interested in learning more, they may find the following to be of interest)


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