Are you among the thousands of people who experience worsening migraine symptoms after sunlight exposure? If you are, you may be missing out on the things you used to love doing, like getting a tan on the beach or cycling in the morning.
So, how exactly can sunlight trigger migraine headaches? Is there a way to help patients cope? Can a cervical chiropractor help you manage the symptoms so you can get back to your routine? Let’s help you navigate the usual challenges of sunlight-triggered migraine headaches with our guide below.
Light Sensitivity in Migraineurs
Did you know that roughly 80 to 90 percent of people who experience intense migraine headaches have photophobia? On top of that, a significant number of migraineurs note sunlight exposure as their primary trigger. But why does this happen? Studies cite several explanations, such as:
Reduced light tolerance
A 2019 study notes that migraine is a sensory threshold disorder. According to the study’s findings, the sensory threshold of each patient appears to fluctuate following the different stages of a migraine episode. Furthermore, the researchers note that the hypothalamo-thalamo-brainstem network may be regulating the periodic sensory threshold changes.
Exposure to specific sun wavelengths
Healthcare professionals like doctors or cervical chiropractors often remind patients with migraines to limit their exposure to blue light. That’s because studies link blue light exposure to several vision problems, including macular degeneration, eye strain, blurry vision, and dry eyes.
If you go through some of the previous blog posts on migraines here at UCA, you will find several discussions that tackle the dangers of blue light exposure. You will also come across tips like “keep away from mobile gadgets and computer screens before bedtime.”
But did you know that a third of the visible light produced by the sun is blue light? This is not surprising because the sun is about 100,000 times brighter than your computer or mobile screen.
Increased light sensitivity among migraineurs can sometimes stem from temporary or long-term conditions. Examples of these include glaucoma, corneal abrasion, conjunctivitis, and meningitis. If you suspect having any of these pre-existing conditions and experience chronic migraines triggered by sunlight exposure, we suggest getting diagnosed by your physician or ENT specialist.
Remedies for Migraine Attacks Triggered by Sunlight Exposure
It would be pretty challenging to avoid sunlight exposure, especially if you live in the sunniest parts of the country, such as Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, and California. So it would be wise to seek effective remedies for migraine attacks. Here are a few tips to help you curb your sunlight-related migraine headaches:
Switch to polarized sunglasses
We suggest investing in good-quality polarized eyewear if you want a quick and practical way to shield your eyes from bright sunlight. The lenses used in this specific type of eyewear can block glare or reflected light from shiny surfaces like windshields and metal signages.
Manage your schedule
The sun reaches its peak brightness level at around 12 noon or 1 pm. So, we suggest staying indoors during this interval or rescheduling activities earlier or later in the day. You might also find it helpful to rest in a cool place to prevent triggering worse headaches or other migraine symptoms because of the intense heat.
Avoid other migraine triggers
Besides the sunlight, there is a long list of migraine triggers that you should know and avoid. According to studies, the triggers may differ from one person to another, so we suggest keeping track of yours and checking how often they cause migraine episodes. Here are some of the usual things that patients associate with their attacks:
- Loud sounds
- Weather and temperature changes
- Excessive consumption of food preservatives and sweeteners
- Medication abuse
- Lack of sleep
- Excessive or lack of caffeine intake
Increase your eye’s tolerance for sunlight
It’s virtually impossible to determine which comes first: migraine attacks or light sensitivity. So, you might find it helpful to explore ways to increase your eye’s tolerance for sunlight. One way you can do that is through light therapy. This simple technique uses a specialized lamp to help the eyes get used to a bright or sunny environment.
Besides light therapy, we also recommend following some of the tips below:
- Gradually reduce the use of dark sunglasses
- Switch to healthier light alternatives (instead of fluorescent and LEDs)
- Open your window blinds and let the light in, especially during early mornings
- Increase light exposure each month
- Eat food products rich in Vitamin A
Visit a cervical chiropractor
Besides working on your light sensitivity, seeking holistic and natural remedies for migraine attacks is equally important. This is because if you successfully address the potential root cause, you might have a better shot at eliminating photophobia and improving your migraine symptoms.
So, how exactly can you do that then? Studies point to upper cervical care, a branch of chiropractic discipline that focuses on correcting the neck’s curvature. According to several case studies, light sensitivity and migraine attacks might stem from the same problems – a misaligned neck and signal interferences in the brain.
Some bones like the C1 and C2 can pinch nearby tissues and trigger neurovascular compression when the neck’s structure is out of whack. This prevents your brain from communicating effectively with the rest of your body. It also causes the affected tissues to send pain signals repeatedly, forcing your nervous system to malfunction and trigger things like migraines and light sensitivity.
Thankfully, with the help of a cervical chiropractor, you can fix the vertebral subluxation and help your nervous system to function correctly again. Upper cervical chiropractic has been around for decades and has helped change the lives of many people who experience chronic migraine attacks.
So, if other migraine remedies didn’t work out for you, we recommend tapping into upper cervical chiropractic. Call the nearest upper cervical chiropractic clinic today for your first consultation.