What Causes Winter Headaches and How Can You Prevent Them
From cluster headaches to winter migraines and even sinus headaches, it may feel like the frequency of all kinds of headaches reaches a new peak during the winter season. We’re often told by elders to keep our head and neck covered during this harsh season - but does this practice have more benefits than just keeping us warm and cosy?
The link between headaches and winters
Research shows that headaches become more common in the winter season as cold temperatures and short sunshine duration can alter the atmospheric (barometric) pressure. This change in pressure can cause haemodynamic (internal blood pressure mechanism) changes in the body, leading to headaches or migraines. Also, the chilly winter winds can constrict the nerves and blood vessels in the brain, which can also lead to headaches.
The sinuses are cavities present on the front side of the skull. They are filled with air and they are in equilibrium with the atmosphere. Any big changes in the atmospheric pressure can disrupt this equilibrium, leading to headaches.
Experts also say that change in the length of the days can be a possible reason behind these seasonal headaches. In the winter season, the duration of nights gets longer and days shorter. That may alter the body’s sleep-wake cycle, giving a rise to headaches.
Preventing headaches in the winter season
Following are some simple tips to keep in mind during the winter season to avoid frequent headaches:
- Cover your head and neck with proper winter clothing before stepping out on a cold day.
- Keep your neck and shoulder muscles relaxed for proper blood circulation. If you feel tense, try massaging, stretching the muscles and doing gentle circular movements of the neck.
- Get eight good hours (at a stretch) of sleep regularly. Also, try to maintain a sleep pattern by sleeping and waking up at the same time every night.
- Keep the room warm by using a radiator. You can also use a humidifier if you feel your room isn’t humid enough.
- Take steam at least twice a day to keep your sinuses clear during winters.
- Use face massage tools like a jade roller or a gua sha to massage the face daily. It is believed that this helps drain the sinuses and prevent headaches.
- Skipping meals can cause headaches so make sure you have all three meals on time. Also, make sure you're eating a healthy balanced diet so you don’t develop any nutritional deficiencies.
- Regular exercise is very important to maintain body temperature and blood circulation. It may feel impossible to leave your cosy blanket but moderate exercise during winter helps prevent headaches.
- Take warm baths or showers to relax your muscles and keep your body warm. Ensure that the temperature isn’t too hot and that you don’t stay in there for too long as doing so can lead to unnecessary cold exposure.
- It’s possible for you to not feel very thirsty during the winter season, but that doesn’t diminish your body’s need for water. Stay hydrated to maintain proper fluid balance in the body.
- Sip warm or hot beverages like hot ginger tea or warm turmeric latte to keep your body warm.
- Consult the doctor for proper migraine medications if you get winter migraines and try to avoid any known triggers.
For more information, read our article on Headaches.
Health articles on News18 are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.