UAE temperature crosses 50°C: Headache, migraine cases surge during summer, say doctors

Patients frequently experience dehydration during summertime, which can strongly trigger the throbbing pain


Nandini Sircar

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Image used for illustrative purpose.
Image used for illustrative purpose.

Published: Tue 11 Jul 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Mon 17 Jul 2023, 7:08 PM

[Editor's note: This story has been updated as the temperature in the UAE crosses 50°C-mark for first time this summer]

UAE temperature, on Sunday, July 16, crossed the 50-degree mark. According to the National Centre of Meteorology (NCM) Bada Dafas (Al Dhafra Region) in Abu Dhabi was recorded the hottest temperature in the country so far this year.

As the temperatures soar, UAE doctors say headaches and migraines tend to also rise during the summer season, resulting in a 10-20 per cent increase in the volume of patients seeking inpatient care. Dehydration, change in temperature, dietary triggers and altered routines can all contribute to headaches.

Dr Najo Jomaa, Specialist Neurologist, Burjeel Farha Hospital, Al Ain, said: "Headaches are more common in summer as the heat can trigger it in general, as well as migraine headaches in patients who suffer from it. Patients frequently experience dehydration during summertime, which can strongly trigger migraine headaches."

In a Harvard University study of more than 7,000 patients diagnosed with headaches, Dr Jomaa explained that the patients' short-term risk of severe headache increased 7.5 per cent with every 9°F rise in temperature (12°C).

"Summertime headaches are mostly caused by dehydration and direct exposure to sunlight (which can also be a trigger for migraine headache) as well as changes in sleep pattern whether it is staying awake later at night, or sleeping more hours per day," she added.

Women are more susceptible

Women are roughly three times more likely than men to experience migraines. Dr Srinivasa Rao Polumuru, Consultant Internal Medicine, Specialty, Internal Medicine, NMC Specialty Hospital, Al Nahda, Dubai, said: "Weather is a very important factor and element when it comes to headache and migraine. Headaches are more common during summer because it brings significant barometric pressure change."

Barometric pressure is the measurement of air pressure in the atmosphere and changes based on temperature, altitude and moisture.

"The mechanisms of how this relates to a headache from the sun are still not entirely known. One hypothesis is that changes in sinus fluid pressure and distribution trigger changes. Common causes are heat exhaustion, excess humidity and dehydration. We see a 10-20 per cent increase in patients seeking inpatient treatment during these months."

Doctors emphasise that "treating headaches before they become severe" helps with pain relief and can be lifesaving and prevent costly medical care.

Dr Ravi Shanker Lohano, Specialist Neurology, Saudi German Hospital Ajman, recommended certain dos and don'ts to avoid headaches. He said: "Drinking plenty of liquids throughout the day, avoiding excessive sun exposure, taking regular breaks in shaded areas, wearing polarised 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 and keeping medications at room temperature is important."


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