Migraine after Sun Exposure?

by James on 29 May 2012

No, you’re not the only one who gets a migraine attack after being out in the sun.  It’s actually pretty common.  But why?

There could be a number of reasons.  Here are common migraine after sun explanations:

Migraine after sun?
  • Migraineurs are simply more sensitive to light.  I don’t mean during an attack, although that may be true as well.  Migraineurs are often simply more sensitive all the time.  A study in the far north, for example, found that migraineurs were more likely to have attacks during the times of the year when there was more sunshine.
  • Change.  Migraineurs tend to be more sensitive to change.  If you’re suddenly going from dark to light, or if you’re spending time out in the heat, sudden changes in your body could trigger an attack.
  • Hydration!  Being out in the sun could mean you just need to drink more liquids.
  • Flickering.  Yes, the high contrast flicker between sunlight and shadows, such as flickering light through the trees as you drive by, could trigger an attack.
  • Weather patterns.  Some researchers believe that weather systems that are warm and humid (the passage of a warm front with low pressure) may trigger migraine attacks.  Often these weather systems have overcast skies, but not always.

What can I do about it?

Here are some tips to avoid the sun migraine trigger:

  • Stay hydrated – carry a bottle of water.
  • Slow down – warm up, cool off, especially if you’re exercising.  Avoid going from a dark room into bright sunlight.
  • Check with your optometrist – make sure it’s not an eye problem that’s making things worse.
  • Try a quality pair of sunglasses – suggestions here:  How Sunglasses are helping fight Migraine and Precision Tinted – Especially to Fight Migraine.
  • Avoid flickering - if you can, look away or close your eyes to avoid flickering light.

Also, consider the tips in the article and tips from our visitors (comments below) for headache after working out.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica Madore May 30, 2012 at 5:59 am

My “sun” limit is about 30 minutes in direct sun, 1 hour in nondirect, and about 2 hours in heat above 80 degrees. Sucks since I live in Florida….I am able to swim for about an 1 1/2 before it’s too much tho so that’s good. AC is my best friend! lol

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Terri Branham May 30, 2012 at 7:01 am

The sunlight coming thru my bdrm window in the morning, loud noises, and wearing my reading glasses are some of the triggers for my migraines. :(

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PainInTheHead July 31, 2012 at 2:55 pm

5 minutes and I am toast. I get so many vampire jokes, I’ve started checking for fangs. The pain from light – almost any light but especially sunlight has gotten so bad over the years that I can’t wear my Rx glasses indoors or out. ‘Nuff to bring a wrestler to his knees- and puke.

‘Can’t wait to try these glasses.

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Rose December 17, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Hey I know all about the Risen Dead Jokes!! People think I am weird because I sleep through the day and am about at night. Even medical people keep saying that I am not doing myself any good for being nocturnal. I don’t see any sense in waking up in the morning only to be back in bed by 10am and I am the one who has to put up with the pain. My childhood years taught me to keep away from sunlight. My biggest problem is not having any human contact.

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Ashley September 1, 2013 at 4:22 pm

OMG this is so me. Finally something that makes sense. Anyone have suggestions on being able to make it longer outside? Limit now is like fifteen minutes

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