Did You Know Fall Weather Can Trigger Migraines?


The leaves are changing, the air is cooling…..and the headaches begin.  Many people living with autoimmune disorders report an increase in headaches, or more specifically, migraines during the fall weather.  Changes in barometric pressure or weather and/or extreme cold temperatures mean added stress during the holidays for a lot of Spoonies. Because lifestyle elements/triggers actually cause physiological changes within the body and this is how they ultimately trigger the migraine attack.

Since today is the first “official” full day of autumn, here are a few tips to alleviate the migraines when they attack:

Headache home remedy #1 – Aromatherapy

This is one of the most powerful of the headache home remedies. It’s somewhat different for everyone, because everyone associates different types of smells with different things. However, there are some aromas that stand out from the crowd as headache killers: peppermint, sandlewood, lavender, and eucalyptus. Try each of these, and combinations. Use essential oils for massage, or use candles or soaps.

Headache home remedy #2: Exercise

We all know that regular moderate exercise helps us cope with pain. It’s especially effective for people with migraine. Some even find that mild exercise during a migraine helps alleviate the pain. Remember, though – ease into it! Sudden changes can make your migraine worse, and that isn’t what we’re going for here!

Headache home remedy #3: Massage

Now that you’ve got your essential oils, this is another great thing to do with them! Not only does massage stimulate and relax, touch itself is one of the greatest healers.

Headache home remedy #4: Heat and cold

For some people with headache it’s one, with some it’s another. Experiment, but avoid extremes, which can make things worse! Try a cold pack wrapped in a couple layers of towel on your neck.

Article written by staff writer Stephanie Kennedy

About Stephanie:
I live in Fayetteville, NC with my husband and 3 always hyperactive and occassionally adorable children. I was diagnosed with SLE in 2001 at the age of 27 and in the time since, have added Scleroderma, Hashimoto’s and Celiac’s disease to the original Lupus discovery. In my day-to-day life I am a Community Relations Specialist (aka, marketing and creative hodgepodge facilitator) with a local electric cooperative and part-time fitness instructor. For the past two years I have served on the Executive Steering Committee for the LFA’s Fayetteville Walk For Lupus Now event.
  • Eugen_onegin1

    One thing that works for another may not work for them. Excising has helped me in the past. It almost helps take my mind off of the pain and gets endorphin that I believe help relieve some of the pain. I will agree with Melissa though, smells are usually a no-no. The only sensory that seems to help is touch/massage. Smelling, seeing, tasting. It doesn’t work for me, BUT, it may work for some. I wish an article would come out and say “10 things to help migraine that aren’t like the 1billion articles about migraines telling you to put a cold rag on your head, or massaging helps.” (no duh!) Tell me to take something. Tell me to drink tumeric tea in the morning. Or take an asprin every day. I have no idea if these works, just tell me something new. There are so many articles that same the same stuff that really doesn’t need to be read because if you suffer from migraines, you already know these things. You learn reallllllllllllllll…deep breath….lllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllly quick what helps and what doesn’t.

  • Joanie Moore

    I also get chronic migraines, and yes, exercise is a no no!! Ice and heat and essential oils help.

  • Eva-Luz

    HI fellow sufferers

    I’ve been a migraine sufferer for most of my life (a very long time – I’m a grandmother). I’ve never been able to control them completely. There was a decrease in them after a divorce ( I don’t have them 95% of the time anymore) – lol – but they have never gone away completely. I have tried meditation which helps me to relax, acupuncture, diet, exercise….i do not want to use TOPOMAX – that stuff scares the heck out of me.
    It seems that I get so much more of them in the fall…. my current migraine is on a 3rd week. yes, they’ve been low grade it extremely painful, but it has hung around me like a fungus.

    I will try peppermint and hope for the best…..

    I feel for anyone that suffers with migraine….not only do you have to deal with the pain, but also the guilt of not being able to be part of life……

    >`•.¸¸.•´¯`•.¸>¸•´¯`•.¸. >

  • Melissa

    I think you may be confusing migraines with regular headaches. Having been a chronic migraine sufferer for decades, some of your advice is not good. If I exercise when I have a migraine, it makes it WAY worse. And for me, it has made my migraine resistant to medication. Exercise is helpful during tension headaches and when you are not experiencing a migraine, but NOT during migraines. Of course, when you are not suffering from migraines, exercise is wonderful, but with migraines, your blood vessels are inflamed, pressing on the nerves. When you exercise, you are adding pressure and increasing the pain. With regular headaches, your vessels are dilated and exercise helps to open them up. And smells are not good to have around when you have a migraine, either. They increase the nausea and, in some people, may make them worse.

    Hot/cold and massage are very helpful. For me it is a hot pack on my face and/or shoulders/back of neck. Of course, that doesn’t get rid of them. It just makes my time laying down a little more bearable.

  • Natalie

    Heat is the only thing that helps my migraines, but I have never tried the essential oils. I’ll press the hottest washcloth I can get against my forehead.

  • Pennie

    I suffer from Chronic Migraines, Chiari Malformation, Occipital Neuralgia, Intercranial Hypertension and Fibromyalgia and trust me when I say the weather definitely makes my head hurt. I watch the weather but I always know when it is gonna storm cause my body reacts to the approaching storm. I use ice packs and / or heat depending on which type of headache it is. I truly believe in the weather patterns affecting us with any brain disorder or any other disorder that reacts to the pressure changes like arthritis, lupus, and fibromyalgia. I know how you all feel. I pray for anybody sufferring from any disorder. God Bless you all.

  • Adrienne

    I also find that the migraine ice/cold adhesive strips help. I cut them down and apply to my forehead and under my eyes. If the headache is quite severe, I also place my heating pad on low temperature on my upper head, lying down with the lights off and very low music on.

  • Crystal

    I use a cold pack on my head where the pain is centered, but after I’ve been tensing up I use something warm on my neck. Might be as basic as a warm scarf but I also have those reusable heat packs that are about the size of my hand. Perfect for my neck, loop the scarf around and get it where I want as I lay down.

    #5 relaxing music played very quietly, I can’t hear it more than a foot or so away. Helps me remember to slow my breathing and relax my body as meds work.

  • I to get horrible migraine. In the fall :(. I have a child that also has a gluten alergy and we have all changed our way of life for her. I am a married mother of 2 little girls and run a small business I have had a migraine for 3 days straight!!!!!’. Help!!!!

  • AmyBeth

    Hi –
    I’ve been a spoonie for years – this website has been a tool for explaining my disease. I suffer from daily migraines, and yes, amongst many other triggers, fall – and other seasons, can be a big ol trigger.

    The best remedy mentioned here, as I say from daily experience? Peppermint oil. Get it at a health food store, and rub just a dab (its pretty strong!) on your temples….dont rub it over your eyelids!…within 30 seconds you should feel some relief. Its just numbing the area, but hey, any relief helps!

    Putting a cold pack at the base of your neck helps too. For some reason if you ice there, the nerves going to wherever your migraine is get more relief then if you just put the pack right on the pain. (That might not be the correct medical explination, but it works)

    Lying in the dark, in the quiet, and focusing on your breathing during all of this is sometimes the only way to get through it.

    And if it gets just too much to handle? Haul your butt to the ER – they can make you feel better, even without painkillers.