Heat headache: causes, symptoms and prevention

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Heat headaches are common among people during summer. Here are the symptoms, causes, and treatment of heat headaches.

Summer means long days of sun and the scorching heat wears you out. Doesn’t sound great, does it? But that’s what happens and you also run the risk of a heat headache. Headaches are common occurrences, but they become more frequent during the summer. Dehydration, heat exhaustion, underlying pollutants, and several other things can contribute to a heat headache. If you experience a headache as your temperature rises, here’s everything you need to know.

What is a heat headache?

A heat headache or heat-induced headache occurs when you are exposed to high temperatures or heat. It typically develops when your body becomes overheated and struggles to regulate its temperature properly. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as hot weather, prolonged exposure to the sun, strenuous physical activity in hot environments, or even spending time in saunas or hot tubs.

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Heat headaches are common during hot weather. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Can hot weather give you a headache?

Excessive heat can cause headaches, says internal medicine specialist Dr. Divya Gopal. However, this may not always be the case. Sometimes your body’s reaction to heat can also cause headaches. Heat-induced headaches can be exacerbated by weather-related stimuli such as sunlight, excessive humidity, bright light, and abrupt changes in barometric pressure. Dehydration is also another common cause. Your body needs more water in warmer temperatures to make up for fluids lost through sweating.

Dehydration can also affect serotonin levels, which can also fluctuate due to the weather, which can further worsen headaches. Heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion, which has headaches as one of its symptoms, are more likely to occur with prolonged exposure to high temperatures. So, it’s important to rule out heat-related conditions like heat exhaustion or even heatstroke if you get a headache after going out in hot weather, explains the expert.

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What are the symptoms of heat headaches?

The signs and symptoms of heat headaches can vary from person to person. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, someone with a headache may experience other symptoms in addition to the headache, including:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle cramps or stiffness in the muscles
  • Fainting
  • Intense thirst that does not go away even after drinking fluids.
  • Cold skin
  • Fast or weak pulse

If left untreated, these signs and symptoms can even cause heatstroke. Make sure you see someone right away to avoid complications. However, if these symptoms do not accompany the headache, it may manifest as exhaustion, sensitivity to light, dehydration, or a throbbing or numb sensation in the head.

How to prevent heat headaches?

Here are some of the most effective ways to avoid heat headaches, as the expert explains:

1. Avoid spending time outdoors

You can avoid exposure during peak times when the sun is strongest and the temperature is warmest. You should limit outdoor activities during the hottest times of the day. If you are outside, seek shade to reduce exposure to intense heat.

2. Avoid dehydration

Dehydration is one of the symptoms of a headache caused by heat or exhaustion, you should try to avoid it by staying hydrated. Drink plenty of water, especially when outdoors on hot days.

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Read too: Dehydration in summer: watch out for these 5 signs and symptoms

3. Be careful what you wear

In addition to protective accessories such as caps and sunglasses, wearing light, airy clothing can also be beneficial.

4. Maintain electrolyte balance

Sports drinks that replace electrolytes can also help you stay hydrated and maintain electrolyte balance when training indoors. Check out some healthy electrolyte-rich drinks you can consume to avoid dehydration.

5. Eat healthy

Nutrition is very important and you should eat a balanced diet rich in foods with a high water content. Eat a balanced diet containing all essential nutrients. Avoid caffeinated drinks during hot weather.

6. Use cold therapy

If you experience a heat headache or feel like your body temperature is rising, use a cold pack or ice pack to normalize your body temperature.

heat headache
Heat headaches are common during hot weather. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

7. Use sunscreen

Reapplying sunscreen frequently and avoiding prolonged exposure to high temperatures can also help reduce the risk of heat-related headaches.

If you or someone you know experiences these symptoms, see a doctor and take precautions as needed.

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