Head hurt? As temperatures rise, so do your chances of getting a pounder. Find out how to stop the brain pain
You thought cellulite was the bane of bikini season, but summer's real trouble lands a bit higher up. According to a Neurology study, your headache risk jumps 8 percent each time the temperature climbs nine degrees. Heat may make the blood vessels in your skull expand and press up against surrounding nerve endings, creating a very sensitive situation.
As a result, even normal blood flow can feel like a jackhammer drilling through your cranium, says neurologist Alexander Mauskop, M.D., founder of the New York Headache Center. But although headaches are people's number one physical woe—and women get them more often than men do—you can stop the throbbing and get back to the beach.
These zingers, which feel like a giant rubber band wrapped around your brain, affect 78 percent of Americans and can strike up to 15 times a month. "They come from stiffness in your neck, forehead, scalp, and face," says Mauskop, as overly taut muscles irritate nerve endings, which relay pain signals to the brain. Anything from stress to fatigue can get one going.
Treat them: Pop an OTC painkiller—whether it's aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen—at the first sign of scalp tightness. You can also try massaging a muscle-relaxing lidocaine-based gel on your shoulders and neck, says Mauskop.
Prevent them: Start sweating! Sofa spuds are 14 percent more likely to get tension headaches than those who frequent the gym. Exercise is a natural stress buster that prompts your body to release painkilling endorphins, explains Merle Diamond, M.D., codirector of the Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago. It also strengthens blood-vessel muscles against headache-inducing inflammation.