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Headache and a stuffy nose? Why the change in seasons could be impacting your health

Dr Rangan visits a mum with cluster headaches

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Whether you’ve been battling with a brutal headache for the last few days, or have woken up with a stuffy nose and sinus woes, these health problems might be linked to the change of seasons. Spring has made an appearance in recent days across the UK, with sunny spells and warmer temperatures greeting the nation.

Though the milder days can be a joy to wake up to, having a blocked nose or aches and pains can dull the mood.

But why exactly does this happen?

Largely, any headaches or sinus problems associated with a change in season are actually due to a change in barometric pressure.

Barometric pressure, also called atmospheric pressure, is the pressure caused by the weight of the air above us.

Regardless of whether we are transitioning from summer to autumn and winter, or from colder days into warmer ones, barometric pressure fluctuates as the seasons change.

This barometric pressure can have an impact on your health in numerous ways, though headaches and sinus complaints are some of the most common.

Headaches due to seasonal changes

When it comes to headaches, according to the NHS: “Pressure changes that cause weather changes are thought to trigger chemical and electrical changes in the brain.

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“This irritates nerves, leading to a headache.”

These headaches can occur as migraines or even cluster headaches, which happen one or more times a day for a few weeks or months.

According to Brian M Grosberg, director of the Montefiore Headache Centre in New York: “Clusters are common in the autumn and spring, when we adjust our clocks for daylight saving time.

“They’re also common in January and February when the days are short, and in July and August, when they’re long.”

Some symptoms of headaches caused by seasonal changes include severe pain behind or around your eye, periods of pain, breaks between headache attacks, or headaches around the same time of day or night.

If you are someone who experiences similar symptoms annually, it is likely caused by a change in seasons.

Sinus problems due to seasonal changes

Much like with headaches, when the outside barometric pressure lowers, it creates a difference between the pressure in the outside air and the air in your sinuses.

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This can result in pain.

The change can also leave the nasal passages dry and the sinuses susceptible to infection.

In turn, this may lead to swelling, which stops mucus from draining properly.

Some people might also experience congestion and inflammation, as well as sinus headaches.

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