Your Biggest Summer Pain: Headaches!

The heat makes them worse.

Your Biggest Summer Pain: Headaches!

The heat makes them worse.

-Jane Farrell

Summer headache

Yeah, there are worse hot-weather agonies than seeing how you really look in your bikini.

Headaches can turn even the most fun summer day into an uncomfortable blur–because of the way heat interacts with your brain.  A study in the journal Neurology found that your risk of headaches jumps 8 percent each time the temperature  rises by 9 degrees. According to MSNBC, which reported the study, heat can make the blood vessels in your brain expand and press against nearby nerve endings.

When that happens, the blood flow in your brain gives you the pounding feeling that’s impossible to ignore.

Read Moms’ Biggest Health Problems

According to MSNBC, Alexander Mauskop, founder of the New York Headache Center, says that tension headaches – which affect 78 percent of all Americans – come from “stiffness in your neck, forehead, scalp, and face.”  The smartest move is to take an OTC painkiller, and consider using a lidocaine-based gel to massage neck and shoulders, Mauskop says.  (Gels like Topicaine are sold over the counter, but it’s always best to check with your doctor before you start using them.)

Sinus headaches can also be aggravated by the heat, and by dust in your home or office. Mauskop suggests putting a warm cloth over your nose ; an OTC nasal spray can also help.  You can also combat irritating dust and particulates by replacing the filters in your air conditioner with HEPA filters that block airborne nasties

As for migraines, the most painful of all headaches, experts suggest an ice pack (unfortunately,  OTC painkillers won’t do much good). They also suggest prescription medicines called triptans. Ask your doctor if magnesium supplements can help.  Research has found that low levels of magnesium can cause inflammation. (MSNBC)

Tell us: do you get headaches in the summer?

Jane Farrell is a senior editor at BettyConfidential.

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