Changing seasons can affect migraine symptoms. Knowing what to expect during the spring can help you take steps to manage migraine.

For many people, the start of spring is a joyful time. It means the flowers are blooming, there is more sunshine, the days are longer, and it’s time to come out of hibernation.

But for some people who experience migraine, the changes in weather and temperature that come with spring can trigger an episode (or several). As winter turns into spring, there might also be changes in your routine that can make you more prone to a migraine attack.

While not everyone will experience the same migraine triggers, here’s what you should be aware of during spring.

Any seasonal change has the potential to trigger a migraine episode. Many people find that changes in lighting, temperature, or weather can affect them.

It’s estimated that about 20% of migraine episodes are related to weather changes.

With the change of seasons also comes fluctuations in barometric pressure. Changes in barometric pressure can impact blood flow in the body. This can contribute to sinus pressure and trigger a migraine episode.

It’s thought that people with migraine are more sensitive to changes in barometric pressure than others.

In the spring, many different trees, grasses, and other plants start to pollinate. All the pollen floating around in the air this time of year can trigger seasonal allergies for many people.

Spring allergies cause several symptoms, including:

  • sneezing
  • stuffy or runny nose
  • watery eyes
  • itchiness in the mouth, nose, eyes, and throat

Migraine is more common in people with allergies compared to the general population.

Allergy symptoms occur when the immune system identifies allergens as intruders. The immune system then launches an attack, which creates inflammation in the body. This inflammation may also trigger a migraine episode.

Research in 2017 suggests that allergens may trigger migraine. Other research in 2019 notes there’s an overlap in the treatment of allergies and migraine. They suggest antihistamines — a class of medication used for treating allergies — may help treat migraine symptoms too, though more research is needed.

Another contributing factor: When you’re stuffy and itchy, it’s hard to sleep. And not getting enough sleep may make you more likely to experience a migraine attack.

Spring brings with it some specific migraine triggers. You won’t always be able to prevent a migraine episode, but here are some things to be aware of:

Watch the weather

You can’t control the weather, but it may be helpful to be prepared.

Watch for swings in temperature, high winds, and storms, which all signal changes in barometric pressure. Pay attention to which specific weather changes may be triggers for you.

While you won’t be able to change the forecast, you may be able to spot the early signs of migraine. This way, you can start treating a migraine episode before it gets worse.

Manage your allergies

If you experience seasonal allergies, it’s smart to do what you can to manage them.

Talk with your doctor about medications that may help to prevent and relieve your allergy symptoms. This may help to prevent migraine episodes that are triggered by inflamed sinuses.

Keep a consistent sleep schedule

With spring comes more daylight. The sun rises earlier and sets later. Longer days are welcomed for many reasons. They can also change your sleep routine. It’s tempting to stay up a bit later when it’s not pitch dark by the time you get home from work.

However, one of the best things you can do to prevent migraine is to keep a consistent sleep routine. This means going to bed and waking up around the same time every day, even on weekends.

It can help to invest in some good room darkening shades so the daylight doesn’t interfere with your sleep.

Reduce bright light

Spring brings more sunny days. For some people, sunlight can be a trigger. If this is true for you, you can make some changes to manage.

Keep sunglasses handy — consider stocking up on multiple pairs. Keep a pair in your work bag, in the car, and on the front table to grab on your way out the door. This way you always have sunglasses available.

Wearing a wide-brimmed hat is another good strategy to help protect your eyes.

Also, consider the lighting in your home and workplace. You may have large windows with direct sunlight streaming in at certain times of the day. Installing curtains or blinds can help regulate the light in your space.

Be aware of changes in activity

For many people, spring is a time when they start to get more active. You may find yourself beginning to dig in the garden or getting out for walks at lunch. The good news: consistent activity may help prevent a migraine episode.

While gentle exercise is typically safe and unlikely to trigger migraine, it might not be a great idea to suddenly go for a long run if you haven’t done so in months. A sudden increase in exercise or doing something intense can trigger a migraine attack. This may be related to fatigue or dehydration.

If you haven’t been active throughout the winter months, it’s a good idea to start slow in the spring.

Stay hydrated

Dehydration can be a common migraine trigger. It’s important to stay hydrated by drinking fluids throughout the day.

Good sources of fluids include:

  • water
  • fruit juice
  • milk and milk alternatives
  • decaf hot or cold teas

Practice caution with caffeine sources such as coffee or tea. If you are used to drinking caffeine every day, it’s important to be consistent. Too much caffeine, as well as caffeine withdrawal, can both be migraine triggers.

Keep in mind that spring weather can be unpredictable. Some days still feel like winter. Other days are sunny and hot. If you’re outside and sweating more on a hot day, or you’re increasing your activity levels, you will need to increase your fluid intake.

The spring season has the potential to increase migraine frequency in some people. Fluctuations in weather, exposure to spring allergies, and changes in your daily routine can each trigger a migraine episode.

Understanding your individual springtime triggers and taking steps to manage them can help you prevent a migraine episode.