What You Need To Know About Heat-Induced Headaches And Migraines
Heat-induced headaches are one of the most common types of migraine. They occur when your body gets too much heat.
These migraines can be caused by many things including: sun exposure, exercise, sitting near a window all day long, smoking cigarettes or even eating spicy foods. Most commonly these migraines are called “heat stroke” because they happen suddenly and severely. When you have a heat stroke, it feels like your brain just exploded. Your muscles feel numb and you lose consciousness within seconds. If left untreated, a heat stroke can lead to death.
The main symptom of heat-induced headaches is severe pain with no other symptoms present such as nausea or vomiting. Other possible symptoms include confusion, dizziness, lightheadedness and fainting (see image).
A person may experience only some of these symptoms while others persist throughout the day.
How Do I Know if My Headache Is From Heat?
If you wake up in the morning feeling like you have been doused in ice water, then it’s probably not good news. A heat headache usually lasts anywhere between 15 minutes to 2 hours and can last for days. It starts out mild but soon becomes intense and debilitating. It is very painful and you may feel like throwing up or passing out.
What Should I Do if I Have a Heat-Induced Headache?
If you think you have a heat-induced headache, try taking one of the following steps immediately:
Use a cold compress on your forehead or the back of your neck. This should help dull the pain.
Cool down your body temperature by drinking a large glass of water and sitting in front of a fan.
Take a cool shower or bath.
If you experience vomiting, diarrhea or a stiff neck then this is a sign of heat stroke and requires immediate medical attention because it can cause organ damage and death.
How Can I Prevent Heat-Induced Headaches?
Some of the preventative steps you can take to avoid a heat-induced headache include:
Stay hydrated at all times throughout the day by drinking water or juice.
Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages such as coffee or tea since they can cause dehydration.
Take regular breaks in cool places if you have a job that requires you to be physically active or outdoors in the sun for long periods of time.
Wear a hat and sunglasses when you are outside to protect your skin and eyes from the sun’s UV rays.
Try to go to sleep earlier during the summer so you can wake up early before the sun rises high in the sky. Sleeping in late on hot summer days can make your body temperature rise which can cause a heat-induced headache.
What Medications Can Help Prevent and Treat My Headache?
There are several over-the-counter drugs you can get from your local drug store that should help with the pain and other symptoms of a heat-induced headache. The main ones are:
Aspirin, which helps reduce fever and pain. (Note: Do not give aspirin to children or teenagers with a fever since it has been linked to Reye’s syndrome, a rare but dangerous illness).
Ibuprofen, which helps reduce fever and pain.
Paracetamol or acetaminophen, which helps reduce fever and pain.
As always, check the ingredients of any drug before you buy it since not all of them are recommended for people with certain medical conditions.
If over-the-counter drugs aren’t helping, you can ask your doctor about taking prescription-strength painkillers such as:
Morphine or codeine for more severe pain.
Tramadol for a milder painkiller.
If you have frequent heat-induced headaches, your doctor can write you a prescription for a long-term medication such as:
Antidepressants, which help to prevent the symptoms of migraine.
Beta blockers, which also help prevent migraine by lowering blood pressure.
Talk to your doctor about an appropriate treatment because overusing painkillers can be dangerous and may even lead to death due to an overdose.
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