How do you deal with weather-related headaches?
June 12, 2020 4:37 AM   Subscribe

I get headaches (not full-blown migraines, usually) and a general feeling of malaise when it is hot and humid and the pressure is low. I'm looking for suggestions on how to alleviate these. If you are similarly affected by the weather, how do you deal?

Heat, humidity and low barometric pressure give me some or all of: a slight headache, a sinusy face-ache, dry mouth, difficulty focusing my eyes on the screen, and feeling of being beaten down. It's similar to the feeling of being hungover or dehydrated, but doesn't seem to be affected by water intake. Usually it's not debilitating but is enough to make for a miserable day and can make work rather difficult.

I'm presently in a part of the world where it is hot and humid, the pressure is low for extended periods, tropical storms are frequent, and the air is otherwise very still. In this season, sometimes that headachy feeling can last for days on end.

I do have access to air conditioning but I try to avoid it as it doesn't leave me feeling great either. Paracetamol doesn't seem to have any effect. Tea sometimes helps, but I think it's a comfort thing rather than a caffeine thing, as coffee can make it worse. Savoury/ salty food temporarily helps.

Do you get similar headaches? Have you found ways to prevent, treat or manage them? Any suggestions are welcome, but especially those that don't rely on prescription medicines.
posted by tavegyl to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
My headaches have always seemed to track with weather, too, and I find that taking a non-drowsy antihistamine like Zyrtec helps to mitigate the symptoms.
posted by telegraph at 5:19 AM on June 12, 2020

I have no idea where I learned this because now I'm finding no sources, but I swear it helps with the face-ache. Sit upright and relaxed and then reach into your mouth with your thumb or a finger and apply upward pressure to the roof of your mouth at the front-most part of the soft palate (right above where it says "centre" in the second diagram here). Maintain gentle pressure for ~30 seconds, or as long as you comfortably can. Generally I'll initially think it didn't work, but then a few minutes later I'll realize my face/head feels a lot less terrible. It's supposed to have something to do with draining the sinuses. There are some other points you can try pressing on too like right at the top of the bridge of your nose or the eye socket area just below the inside end of your eyebrow, but the one in the mouth works best for me.

I've found that another important component is electrolyte intake. This doesn't have to mean a sports drink per se. A couple shakes of salt into a glass of water can really help, particularly if you can find both regular NaCl and the "no-salt" KCl kind for people who are supposed to limit sodium intake. If drinking salt water isn't your thing (it comes up a lot in keto, and I feel like I may have lost some perspective on how weird it strikes people who don't follow the diet), you could also try just adding a bit extra to your food throughout the day.
posted by teremala at 5:21 AM on June 12, 2020 [4 favorites]

It's the low barometer. Try Sudafed.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:53 AM on June 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

posted by amtho at 5:55 AM on June 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

This is me too, and I take plain old over-the-counter ibuprofen. It's a painkiller like paracetamol is, but it works by reducing inflammation and swelling, and inflammation and swelling is what's causing the sinus pain.

I also try to use an over-the-counter antihistamine to stop the reaction to allergens in the first place, when I remember to. That unfortunately took a lot of trial and error to figure out the right one, and I ultimately found that a nasal spray kind was what worked best for me. I think Flonase is what I use now (I can't remember, honestly, since I sometimes go with the generic drug store brand copy).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:25 AM on June 12, 2020

Gah hit post too soon

But for the in-the-moment pain, ibuprofen works. Be ready to have the pain give way to a stuffy nose as your sinuses drain, but then you just need to blow your nose a bunch and that's sorted.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:26 AM on June 12, 2020

My mom used to get these, and finally discovered that allergy medicine helped (she didn't realize that she had allergies.)
posted by pinochiette at 6:35 AM on June 12, 2020

I get these sometimes, a combination of barometric pressure, a narrow Eustacian tube in one ear and post-nasal drip, resulting in a banging sinus pressure headache. What works for me is Sudafed (or rather, the cheap generic containing 12.2mg of Phenylephrine Hydrochloride) and a couple of ibuprofen.
posted by essexjan at 7:10 AM on June 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'd also add that about a month ago I bought a cool mist humidifier which I run at night in my bedroom and it's helped my post-nasal drip and sinus issues immensely. I bought this one (which is at a really good price here) and although it's described as 'mini', it's about the size of a football. I would recommend it highly if you feel dehydrated and dislike air conditioning.
posted by essexjan at 7:16 AM on June 12, 2020

Nasal irrigation (with a neti pot or similar full of water with a bit of salt - look up ratios online) is much nicer for me than antihistamines or decongestants. It doesn't last as long, but I can repeat it as often as needed.

I just tried the soft palate push, and that is going on the list next time I get this kind of headache!
posted by Acari at 7:33 AM on June 12, 2020

A really hot wet washcloth plastered across the face helps briefly. A cold washcloth tends to make the blood vessels in your sinus cavities contract and makes it worse even though it cools you down. But if you like the idea of cold, try putting an ice pack on the very top of your head like an old fashioned illustration of someone with a hangover or a fever.

It's worth experimenting with postural changes. Lying with your head lower than your shoulders can make it worse or potentially better. In weather like this I sleep sitting up because for me a lowered head makes it much worse. Humidity migraines are good for my posture. Try going through a full set of relaxation exercises so that all the muscles from your rib cage up are completely relaxed. If your trapezius is part of the problem you can try propping your arms up on something just above your face and leaning your forehead on your forearms. That takes the weight of your arms off your trapezius muscle and remove tension in the back of the head and increase circulation there.

Taking away any one of your triggers can help, keeping bed sheets in the freezer and swapping them out to wrap around yourself can lower your temperature without having to resort to an air conditioner making your air weird. It's worth experimenting with a small enclosed room with the heat turned up, baked into a state of low humidity in case you can deal just fine with dry heat.

Your issue is very likely full blown migraines, with full synaptic activity in the brain itself, but without the irritated trigeminal nerve. Seriously consider treating this with triptans even when you only feel blah and are not in excruciating pain. If the triptans work that will be evidence that they are "silent" migraines.
posted by Jane the Brown at 9:34 AM on June 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

I spread a thin layer of Vicks VapoRub across my forehead, down my temples and down the bridge of my nose. Does the trick pretty much immediately. I keep a jar at work and a jar at home.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 9:58 AM on June 12, 2020

I have this issue and a combo of prophylactic non drowsy antihistamine (eg cetirizine) plus decongestant and painkiller works for me. I can’t take ibuprofen but acetaminophen is second best. My partner uses a neti pot in addition to the above and he says it works well.

What works for me is Sudafed (or rather, the cheap generic containing 12.2mg of Phenylephrine Hydrochloride)

Be aware that this substitution (phenylephrine for pseudoephedrine) doesn’t work for everyone and may not work for you—it does not work for me at all and apparently that’s not uncommon. I’d stick with pseudoephedrine, unless it’s counter indicated for you (because of risk of heart disease, stroke, etc.). If you’re in a country where they were worried about people using it to make meth you’ll need to show ID and sign for it, but in my opinion it’s worth it. I’m in Canada and we have to show ID and sign for it if we buy pure pseudoephedrine, but we can buy it over the counter if it’s part of a combination with acetaminophen [maybe ibuprofen too but I don’t buy that so I don’t know]. I’m not sure what the rules are for your country.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 1:16 PM on June 12, 2020

3rding Maxalt / Triptans.

But if you want to try something more "behavioral" first, if it's possible where you live and at the time the feeling strikes, I find that it helps to go sit by a nearby large body of water. I'm not climate scientist so maybe its a placebo but something about the air in the immediate area of the water helped stave off a full blown headache. This worked in Philadelphia when I lived about a half mile from the delaware river and I would go sit there and in various jersey shore towns when I would go sit on the beach.
posted by WeekendJen at 1:10 AM on June 13, 2020

Sudafed is what I need for pressure-related headaches. The real stuff but just one small red pill does the trick for me.
posted by ch1x0r at 2:32 PM on June 13, 2020

« Older Community during COVID-19   |   Feeling lost w/Therapist Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.