The Dog Days of Summer are here, the time between July 3rd and August 11th that are generally considered the hottest days of the year. Most of us look forward to them as the perfect excuse to spend the day at the lake or riding the river. But there are some people who dread the warmer weather because of the possibility of triggering heat-induced headaches. While many blame the weather itself for these types of headaches, there is typically an underlying cause for your head pain.
Causes of Heat Headaches
Headache pain can be triggered by a change in temperature, humidity, and air pressure. But it’s important to remember that headaches are often symptomatic of other conditions in the body. Oftentimes it isn’t actually the heat causing your headache, but your body’s response to the heat.
Dehydration occurs when the body lacks the right amount of fluid to supply the brain. This causes your brain tissue to lose moisture and shrink, which in turn causes headaches. As the water in the body decreases, dehydration can also impact the flow of blood through your blood vessels. This can lead to a rapid drop in blood pressure as well as extreme fatigue. Dehydration alone can be enough to cause headaches in many, but it can also exacerbate other conditions, including migraines. The good news is that dehydration is completely preventable.
Your heat headache may actually be an early indicator that you’re experiencing heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion is the body’s response to an excessive loss of water and salt, usually through excessive sweating. It is most often experienced during periods of prolonged physical exertion in high temperatures. Common symptoms of heat exhaustion include the following:
- Sudden headache
- Excessive sweating
- Pale or clammy skin
- Abnormal pulse (either too fast or too weak)
- Nausea or vomiting
- Muscle pain or cramps
- Fatigue or weakness
Without treatment, heat exhaustion can quickly become more severe and lead to heatstroke. If the above symptoms worsen or last beyond an hour, you should seek medical attention.
Heat stroke is more dangerous than heat exhaustion, as it indicates that your body has reached an extreme temperature and is no longer capable of cooling itself down. This is the most serious form of heat injury and it can occur if your body temperature rises to 104 F (40 C) or higher. The symptoms of heat stroke are similar to those of heat exhaustion but may occur along with confusion and loss of consciousness. Untreated heat stroke can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys, and muscles and requires emergency treatment.
If you regularly suffer from migraines, your heat headache may actually be the first indicator of migraine onset. Fluctuations in barometric pressure, high humidity, and even too much exposure to sunlight can all be migraine triggers. To avoid heat-induced migraines, try to avoid excessive time outside during the hottest days and keep yourself as cool as possible throughout the day.
Treating Heat Headaches
Understanding both the causes and the warning signs of a heat headache can help you prevent and treat the potentially dangerous heat-related conditions behind your pain. If you experience a headache during hot weather make sure to get into a location that is cooler and get yourself hydrated. Severe headaches during hot weather that are accompanied by the above symptoms should be taken seriously and treated promptly. Particularly where children or the elderly are concerned.
If you’re suffering from headaches for any reason on a regular basis, consider consulting with your chiropractor’s office. At Atlas Specific, we can provide you with a thorough assessment to help you determine the root cause of your headaches. Schedule an appointment with us today by calling, 970.259.6803, visiting our Durango office at 1800 E 3rd Ave #108, or clicking the link below for a free consultation.
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We are doctors of upper cervical chiropractic, but we are NOT necessarily YOUR doctors. All content and information on this website is for informational and educational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice, and reading or interacting with this site does not establish any form of patient-doctor relationship. Although we strive to provide accurate information, the information presented here is not intended as a substitute for any kind of professional advice and you should not rely solely on this information. Always consult a professional in your particular area of need before making medical decisions.