Heat headaches: What to do?

Heat headaches are unlikely to result from the heat itself.

In most cases, the cause will be another trigger that is associated with heat.

The following are some common triggers of headaches in warmer temperatures:

Dehydration

Dehydration triggers a headache because a lack of liquids leads to the constriction of blood vessels.

Heat-related illnesses

Heat-related illnesses are common during warmer months.

A person should limit their time in hot environments and avoid excessive exercise in the heat. If a person develops either heat exhaustion or heatstroke, a headache is a common symptom.

Other headache triggers

Several environmental triggers can potentially cause a headache or migraine to occur. Some potential headache or migraine triggers that are common in warmer months include:

too much sun or light

dehydration from not drinking enough

fragrances from perfumes or sunscreen

not following a routine by skipping meals

not following a routine by skipping medication

medication becoming less effective at higher temperatures

exercising in the heat

Heat or environmental headaches may present different symptoms depending on what is causing them.

Heat exhaustion

If heat exhaustion is the cause of a headache, a person may experience additional symptoms relating to being overheated. According to the CDC, the following are some warning signs of heat exhaustion:

sweating a lot

vomiting or nausea

dizziness

muscle cramps

weakness or feeling tired

cold or clammy skin

fast but weak pulse

passing out

Heatstroke

Heatstroke has similar symptoms to heat exhaustion, but it is more serious. A person should call 112 if someone experiences the following symptoms:

hot, dry, or damp skin

confusion

dizziness

nausea or vomiting

strong, fast heartbeat

high body temperature above 103°F

reddened skin, in people with lighter skin tones

Headache prevention and treatment

A person can take steps to prevent and treat headaches due to heat, dehydration, or other environmental triggers.

Prevention

drinking plenty of liquids throughout the day

avoiding excessive sun exposure

taking regular breaks in shaded areas

wearing polarized sunglasses

wearing fragrance-free sunscreen or other lotions

avoiding exercise in extreme heat

continuing to eat meals on a normal schedule

taking medications according to the prescription

keeping medications at room temperature

If a person has a headache, some self-care techniques may help reduce or eliminate the pain. These include:

taking a rest in a shaded area

using a cold pack or ice to help lower the body temperature

avoiding caffeinated beverages

waiting until it is cooler to exercise